KUCHING: The city’s hydrogen bus service will only resume after all the hydrogen-fuel buses have undergone the full scheduled maintenance works by technicians from the China-based manufacturer, Foshan Feichi Automobile Co, Ltd.
Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain in a press statement yesterday said the hydrogen bus service was temporarily suspended beginning March 18 in compliance with the Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide.
“Presently the hydrogen buses are still grounded until technicians from the bus manufacturer, Foshan Feichi Automobile Manufacture Co, Ltd (Feichi) in China, are able to perform the necessary scheduled maintenance works and at the same time they (buses) are still under warranty,” he added.
According to him, the technicians who were scheduled to arrive here in March this year are still unable to enter Sarawak due to the existing travel restrictions imposed since the start of MCO, which is part of the precautionary measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Apart from providing the warranty support services, the bus manufacturer was also scheduled to complete the training schedule for local technicians in Kuching as part of their continuous obligations to SEDC as part of the technical support agreement.
“Unfortunately, those plans too have been put on hold due to travel restriction related to Covid-19. The reliability and safety of our passengers are of utmost priority and as such the bus service would only resume operations when every vehicle is proven to be fully roadworthy,” he said.
He also said upon the resumption of service, the general public can continue to use the hydrogen-fuel bus service free of charge.
Abdul Aziz also noted that the bus service has received encouraging response from city folks and foreign tourists who can travel through major areas within Kuching city and also to Pantai Damai, Santubong on weekends.
“Rest assured that we will resume our service so that locals and tourists alike will be able to enjoy this environmental-friendly and comfortable public transport once again,” he said.
Abdul Aziz also reveald that the manufacturer of the bus had collected data on all of the city’s hydrogen buses’ performance during every journey taken in Kuching since the buses arrived in the city.
The data, which included information on the consumption of hydrogen, voltage and
current perimeters as well as the drivers’ habits, are being monitored and reflected in the manufacturer’s database in China, he added.
The bus service was officially launched by the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg on Jan 21 this year.
Earlier yesterday, DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen called on the state government to review the hydrogen bus project and to instead address the real problem – the lack of public transport here.
“On normal days, the hydrogen bus is supposed to depart from the bus stop in front of Riverside Majestic at 9am. But we have waited here since 8.45am until 9.20am and there is no bus coming.
“In fact, I think the hydrogen buses have been grounded for whatever reason. I was informed that there was a technical problem with the buses,” he told reporters when met at the said bus stop here.
Chong said instead of addressing the core problem of “non-existent and inefficient” public transport in Kuching, the state government had gone “off tangent” by proposing the hydrogen bus project which did not address the problem at hand.
Chong, who is Stampin MP, also called on the government to review the project and be pragmatic in addressing the real problem.
Among those with Chong at the bus stop yesterday were Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei, Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong and former Stampin MP Julian Tan.