Seven solar-powered recharge stations for battery-run auto-rickshaws, known as ‘Easy Bikes’, are going to be set up in private sector in the country under a pilot project.
Besides, according to official sources, technical modification will be brought in the Easy Bike’s body shape to make it safer and more useful to ply local streets, not the highways.
The sources said the Power Division has taken the move to implement such a pilot project as the highest level of the government has shown keen interest in it.
Over 350,000 Easy Bikes are currently running across the country consuming some 300 MW of electricity.
Initially, the government allowed the local traders to import and introduce such Easy Bikes as an alternative to the CNG and petrol-run auto-rickshaws and also to the conventional pedal-run rickshaws.
These bikes were considered to be environment-friendly and technologically advanced ones. But when the bikes started coming into the country on a wholesale basis and hitting the streets indiscriminately, it became a great concern for the government.
This light mode of vehicles have particularly put a great pressure on power supply as about 300 MW of electricity are being consumed by the vehicles every day.
These three-wheelers are also blamed for widespread accidents on roads as the vehicles overturn as those cannot control their speed.
Against the backdrop, the authorities concerned were considering to ban the vehicles. But when the issue came to the knowledge of the government’s highest policy-making level, they asked them to think alternatively and also address the problems the Easy Bikes are facing now.
The Power Division has finally put forward a proposal for setting up solar-powered recharge stations on pilot basis and managing their recharging with alternative power.
The sources also said the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) could be asked to modify the body shape of the vehicles so that they are not subject to frequent accidents.
An official at the Power Division said the High Court recently imposed a ban on plying of Easy Bikes on highsway. So, there is no scope for allowing them on the highways. “But these vehicles are allowable locally, particularly on narrow roads for short distance,” he said.
If the pilot project of setting up solar-run recharge stations is proved successful, then these environment-friendly vehicles will get a good chance of survival, the official said.
He informed that the idea of such recharge stations is that if these are set up by private firms, particularly at the existing petrol pumps, then it will help save lands for building extra infrastructures.
The Easy Bikes will recharge only their batteries at the recharge stations and replace those as per their requirement. The Bike owners will just pay a recharge fee for the service like as they pay electricity bills for recharging.
“If the pilot project is successful, the private sector will be allowed such recharge station and operate business on their own. If needed, the government will provide subsidy to promote the environment-friendly vehicles,” said a senior official at the Power Division who preferred not to be named.