YK Poudel 

Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS) in around seven  dzongkhags has missed the deadline for the second time causing challenges to EV drivers.

The Department of Surface Transport (DST) was supposed to complete the installation by this month after it missed the first deadline in December last year.

According to EV drivers in Thimphu, the installation of charging stations in populated areas clogs roads and parking lots as it takes an hour at the most to fully charge with a fast charger.

Bhutan Taxi Association (BTA) representative from Tsirang, Thubchen Dorji said that the lack of a designated quick charging station in Tsirang is a problem for EV drivers. “There is a need for proper completion of the charging station in Damphu.”

“Officials from the surface transport department claim that progress on the EV project is going as planned, but the space is not enough and favourable for charging electric vehicles,” he said.

EV drivers, he said, complain that lack of charging stations is costing their business. “If we move to Gelephu, we face difficulty returning due to an absence of proper charging station in Gelephu,” he said.

Similarly, Trongsa BTA representative, Penjor said that of the 45 taxis in the dzongkhag, three are EVs. “Trongsa was supposed to get its EVCS by last year. Three of our taxi drivers bought EV taxis.”

“In absence of the charging stations, all three drivers are operating in Thimphu as they need to repay their loans. The foundation of the station has been ready with no progress from the side of the surface transport officials and the contractors assigned to complete the work,” he said.

The limited number of charging stations, he said,  is a serious limitation that the government has to work on at the earliest.

A BTA representative from Dagana, MB Tamang, said that the EVCS has been installed, but  it’s not operational. “There are two EVs in Dagana and the absence of functional charging station has been a challenge for the drivers.”

According to an official from DST, installations in Trashigang, Pemagatshel, Trashiyangtse, Tsirang, Dagana, and Gelephu is completed. “The charging stations in Zhemgang, Wangdue and Gasa are completed but Bhutan Power Corporation has not tested the system. For Samtse, the EVCS is under construction.”

“Although we have the construction machinery and equipment ready, the construction of EVCS in Lhuentse, Trongsa, and Bumthang has been delayed by the contractors,” the official said.

The official said that the issue with the contractors would be resolved at the earliest and that all 14 stations should be operational within a few months.

Electric vehicles first hit Bhutanese roads in 2014.

There are 122,865 vehicles in the country as of June 2022. Of that, 396 are EVs including cars with the government, private, taxis, and corporations, according to the official record.