Electric buses for Kuching city within three years

Abang Johari (left) receives a memento of appreciation from Inter-Continental Travel Centre Sdn Bhd managing director Dayang Azizah Abang Zaidan (centre).

KUCHING, Feb 2: The city will be adopting an environmentally-friendly approach to its public transportation system by replacing its current diesel buses with electric buses within three years from now.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the proposal was made recently after recommendations from the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to replace the old buses in the city with new ones.

However, Abang Johari added, SPAD’s recommendation was to replace them with newer diesel-powered buses, and the proposal was rejected by the state government.

“Instead of replacing all our buses with 100 new diesel buses, might as well we get 50 electric-powered buses. Of course the cost of getting these electrical buses would be higher but the state government is willing to chip in to cover any shortfall,” he told reporters after opening Inter-Continental Travel Centre Sdn Bhd’s new premises at Jalan Kulas, Satok here this afternoon.

Abang Johari said the state government was willing accept SPAD’s offer to help the consortium of Kuching City bus service providers to replace their old dilapidated buses, with the condition that the new buses would be electric-powered.

“SPAD said they do not have enough money to replace all our buses with electric ones, but we (state government) are willing to chip in to cover any shortfall. If we want to improve our public transport, might as well go all the way.

“Nowadays developing countries do not use diesel (engine) buses anymore to ply routes within a city. They (SPAD) initially proposed the new buses be diesel-powered. I rejected it outright.

“I (state government) don’t mind chipping in (to cover) some cost, but of course with a lesser number of buses for the first phase. I said if you (SPAD) are willing to give us 100 diesel buses, might as well you give us 50 electric buses.

“The estimated cost, if I remember correctly, would be about RM50 million. We do not want to be left behind. Like in Terengganu, they are already using electric buses,” he explained.

Abang Johari (centre) speaks to reporters, flanked by Inter-Continental Travel Centre Sdn Bhd managing director Dayang Azizah Abang Zaidan (left) and Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Asked about the progress of the hydrogen bus project he had proposed previously, Abang Johari said he had met with representatives from the hydrogen bus manufacturer in China and the pilot project would be carried out as planned.

Firstly, he added, a hydrogen fueling station would have to be built in Bintawa, before three hydrogen buses arrive within the third quarter of this year.

“We will give one of the hydrogen buses to Sarawak Tourism Board to give tourists free rides within the city,” he said. — DayakDaily