Basel's new electric buses to be made in Switzerland after public outcry
A bus manufacturer from Solothurn tasked with supplying new electric buses for Basel has confirmed that it will be swapping its production base from Belarus to Switzerland. The former is seen as an accomplice to Russia after it invaded Ukraine, which is why so many entrepreneurs are pulling out.
New Basel electric buses to be made in Switzerland
Hess AG announced that it was switching its manufacturing base from Belarus back to Bellach, Canton Solothurn. The company said the workers in Belarus will not lose their jobs, with CEO Alex Naef telling Radio SRF that Hess AG had a "significant social responsibility" to keep them employed.
The decision comes after a large public outcry from the residents of Basel. Hess AG were commissioned by the public transport operator to build new electric buses for the city. When it was revealed by the Basler Zeitung that said buses would be built in Belarus, there was outrage.
Belarus seen as an accomplice to Putin
While not directly involved in the fighting at the time of writing, the Russian state has been using Belarus as a staging ground for the invasion of Ukraine, with thousands of troops pouring over the Belarusian border into the country. Belarus had been on the Swiss sanction list long before the invasion, with the government being accused of serious human rights violations.
Basler Zeitung said the building of the buses in Belarus amounted to a political statement, with the headline, "Million dollar business in times of war." In response, Hess AG has confirmed that they will now be built entirely in Switzerland.
This is not the first time a Swiss international company has been caught out, as Stadler Rail had to move its production plant out of Belarus due to the conflict. The Director of the BVB - Basel's public transport operator - Bruno Stehrenberger, said that the delivery of the new buses is expected to be delayed because of the decision, but clarified that “we are very happy to accept the delay if we get buses that the population can look forward to.”