KUCHING: Hydrogen fuel cell buses are expected to make their much-awaited debut on the roads of Kuching city by March next year.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg disclosed that three units of buses will be used as pilot vehicles for the state.
“We will try three buses first, as part of our pilot project and research (to improve and provide better public transportation system),” he told reporters today after he witnessed the the signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and Foshan Feishi Automobile Manufacture Co Ltd China for the supply and delivery of these hydrogen fuel cell buses.
When asked on the cost of each bus, he said this is being negotiated but he assured that it will not be that expensive.
Earlier in his speech, Abang Johari said the state government is considering free rides for both locals and tourists to use these hydrogen-powered buses when they arrive for the trial run.
He also mentioned that the cost of such public transportation will be cheap, considering the fact that hydrogen is extracted from water, which is abundant in Sarawak. This is unlike other type of buses where costing is tied up to the global price of fossil fuel.
He added that the hydrogen production plant and fuelling station built by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) is now under construction and expected to be ready when the hydrogen fuel cell buses are delivered here.
“In Sarawak, sometimes the public can be quite skeptical. When we talk about hydrogen, they think about hydrogen bomb. I have to educate people first. That is why the pilot project is important.
“We can see the success of other countries such as Germany and China in implementing this. But we want to convince Sarawakians first,” he said.
He conceded that he had to slowdown or postpone the light rail transit (LRT) implemetation in Sarawak to enable more funds to be allocated to improve facilities and infrastructure in the rural areas.
Despite this, he was confident that Sarawak can still improve its public transportation particularly in the Kuching city by using hydrogen as source of energy for the buses.
He also hoped the federal government will also play its part by upgrading the vehicle registration at Road Transport Department (JPJ) to include vehicles fuelled by hydrogen through water-based system.
Abang Johari also spoke about the possibility of Sarawak exporting hydrogen energy through Petros, as extra income for the state. He noted that scientific research is being done to make it possible to transport hydrogen almost in the same manner as LNG cylinders.
Signing the MoU today for SEDC was its general manager Soedirman Aini and witnessed by chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain, while Foshan Feichi Automobile was represented by its general manager Jiang Yong and witnessed by project director Lu Yong.