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Electric bicycles and three-wheelers have hit the city streets very recently and they are plying without permission from the authorities concerned.
Top officials of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) said these electric vehicles are unauthorised.
Users are happy as the vehicles are cheaper and most importantly there is no need of fuel.
The importers and users think they do not need any registration as the electric bicycles do not have engines. Traffic police also do not check their papers.
“It's a fantastic vehicle, I can run about 50 kilometres at a stretch by charging its batteries once,” said Masudur Rahman, who bought two electric bicycles at Tk 30,000.
Masud said his electric bicycle consumes little electricity and can run 30 kilometres per hour. Batteries need two hours to be fully charged, he added.
“And above all, I don't need any driving licence or registration,” Masud said.
The seller of the bicycles told him that registration, fitness certificate or driving licence are not required for using an electric bicycle.
“Using my first electric bicycle I was able to save money I used to pay as rickshaw fare and so I bought another for my brother,” Masud said.
Arun Kumar Das sells electric bicycles at his showroom at Dolairpar near Jatrabari bus terminal. He said this bicycle's popularity is increasing.
About two years ago, he imported 100 electric bicycles from China and all the bicycles were sold in five months. “But now, it is not hard to sell 100 cycles in two months,” he said.
Arun said electric bicycles do not require any registration or driving licence. As this bicycle is not using any engine, it should be treated as a non-motorised vehicle.
A company named “Palli Bahok” imports and sells electric three-wheelers.
An official of the company said several companies are importing electric vehicles and have already sold a good number of three-wheelers. Some of them are publishing advertisements in newspapers for appointing sales agents at district level.
He said electric three-wheelers have a huge market potential due to its low price. An electric three-wheeler costs only Tk one lakh while CNG-run three-wheeler costs more than Tk four lakh. Moreover, electric three-wheelers do not pollute air.
About registration and fitness, he said this is a new product in the country and the authorities are yet to set any rules for their registration.
However, Humayun Rashid, director (operations) of BRTA, said electric vehicles are unauthorised. “A electric vehicle runs by a motor and it consumes power. So it is a motorised vehicle and every motorised vehicle has to collect registration from BRTA.”
No trader or users of the electric vehicles seek BRTA registration, he said.
He said the government has set a maximum limit of the number of CNG-run three-wheelers in the city to check traffic mismanagement. “Introduction of electric three-wheelers will require another government decision on the number of three wheelers.”
If anyone wants to introduce a new type of vehicle, they must collect certification from BRTA on safety and fitness of the vehicle. Moreover, a new kind of public transport in the city requires permission from the Regional Transport Committee.
“Introduction of a new type of vehicle requires lots of tests,” Humayun said.
BRTA is not aware of such electric vehicles plying the city roads because none of the traders or the users have applied to BRTA to get registered, he added.
However, BRTA is going to write to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner to take action against such electric vehicles on the road, Humayun said.
Mohammad Jashimuddin, joint commissioner and chief of traffic wing of DMP, said no motorised vehicle can ply the city roads without registration. “Soon DMP will take action against these electric three-wheelers,” he said.