Busworld Central Asia 2019 made a grand debut with the stakeholders of the bus and coach industry upbeat about the future of mass public transportation in the Republic of Kazakhstan.  

Story by: Sricharan R

Busworld Central Asia 2019

Busworld International forayed into Almaty, in the Republic of Kazakhstan with the inaugural edition of Busworld Central Asia 2019. Held from June 25-27, 2019, at the Atakent Expo, the grand debut of the bus and coach fair attracted potential bus and coach manufacturers, bodybuilders, ancillaries, and specialist service providers among other stakeholders. Known to be in the transition period to advanced bus and coach development, Central Asia was presented as a unique market to all the stakeholders gathered for the inaugural edition. The stakeholders called upon the need to prioritise mass transport solutions keeping a near to medium-term and medium to long-term perspective. The participating Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) presented in all 24 vehicles with most OE companies known to be of foreign origin. Central Asia’s capabilities in assembly and distribution over being looked at as a manufacturing base were highlighted in the inaugural edition of Busworld Central Asia 2019. Among the exhibitors were companies like Kamaz Trade, Anadolu Isuzu Otomotiv, Astana Motor, Dafo Vehicle Fire Protection, JV Man Auto, Samauto, and Voith Turbo Limited making their presence felt at Atakent Expo. 

Bauyrzhan Baibek, Mayor (Akim) of Almaty, Didier Ramoudt, President of Busworld International, Berik Kamaliev, Vice-Minister of Industry and Infrastructural Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and His Excellency Alexis de Crombrugghe de Picquendaele, Ambassador of Kingdom of Belgium, at the inauguration of Busworld Central Asia 2019, Almaty in Republic of Kazakhstan.

Addressing the exhibitor’s spanning from across countries like Turkey, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Belarus and Uzbekistan, averred Didier Ramoundt, President of Busworld International, “During all these years we have always focussed on a variety of important factors to give the best that is available in buses, coaches and also in terms of safety. We have continued that here too.” “Central Asia is an interesting place and it will bring out many interesting factors in the near future making it an interesting place to come and be a part of,” he exclaimed. Looking at the potential of the bus and coach market, the inaugural edition of Busworld Central Asia 2019 had takers in both public and private entities. With the government of Kazakhstan known to be heavily investing in the country’s transport and logistics infrastructure, as per the recent ‘2050 strategy blueprint’, claimed Baurzhan Baibek, Mayor of Almaty that the implementation of reforms in the transport system had led to a fruitful outcome. For instance, around 122 kilometres of dedicated lanes are said to have been created for buses across 22 streets in Almaty. Baibek claimed that even during peak times, travel through public transport is three times faster compared to travel times using private vehicles. “The new reforms allowed us to upgrade 80 per cent of the fleet and by the year-end, we will reach 100 per cent,” he added. “We are first in the region to introduce a new system of passenger traffic. This allows us to increase the number of citizens using public transport by 40 per cent. And, the upgradation of fleets cannot stop as there is a much more need now,” he explained. Aiming to increase the comfort levels further, and help the region scale up the international comparison charts, an additional 144 kilometres of dedicated bus line roads will be developed.

On the sidelines of the bus and coach fair, Busworld Academy, the worldwide knowledge platform of Busworld organised its congress. The congress witnessed a participation of around 38 speakers gathered from all over the world. Taking a global view, the participants addressed issues concerning the pressing local issues. Making the participants abreast of the local bus and coach industry, the academy had the stakeholders deliberate on ways deemed best suited to attaining the desired level of mass public transportation systems in Central Asia.

Speakers at Busworld Academy, the worldwide knowledge platform of Busworld.

Averred Jan Deman, Director of the Busworld Academy, “We started with a market analysis of the buses and coaches here in Kazakhstan. We learned that we are in a grown market and we need to pay attention to the financial methods of renewal of fleets and that there is an immediate need to replace 10 per cent of the existing bus fleet in the near future.” “Over 50 per cent of the buses are over 15 years old and by next year there will be a need to find ways to replace these buses,” he said. With public transport known to be operated by 13 privately-owned companies, and fleet renewal exercise having commenced in 2016, the present-day focus is on CNG buses in the region (approximately 800 units were transferred to CNG). At the congress, the zero-emission buses for both city and long-distance coaches (like for tourism), to lower the emission, were also touched upon. As per a 2017 policy review of the development of public transport sector in Kazakhstan that builds on the preceding work of ‘Sustainable Urban Transport Strategy 2013-23’ for Almaty, among other topics touched upon were  Data availability and its consequences for Public transport analytical review and decision making, Legal aspects of public transport organisation and operation, tendering and contracting in public transport, and key performance indicators in public transport. Making it a strong case for Kazakhstan was the support to the event from local authorities including the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Mayor of Almaty. The conference was organised in association with United Nations Center for Regional Development (UNCRD), Union of Auto Transport of Kazakhstan (KAO), Atamekeh and Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UITP).

Known to be among the world’s largest Landlocked Countries (LLDCs), Kazakhstan like other LLDCs is challenged by the lack of access to the sea requiring a trade to be conducted through neighbouring countries which come at added costs. On the positive front, for OEMs, it also meant that surface transport assumes greater significance in the region. Back in 2014, the United Nations called for the assistance of LLDcs in the ‘Almaty Programme of Action’. It was designed to address special needs like establishing a new global framework for developing efficient transit transport systems in landlocked and transit developing countries, taking into account the interests of both landlocked and transit developing countries. It is what makes the country’s bus and coach industry stakeholders upbeat about the future of mass public transportation.

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