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Move to legalise electric vehicles

Published: January 24, 2019 09:53:40 | Updated: January 25, 2019 11:51:11


FE file photo used for representation

The new government in Bangladesh is going to legalise electric vehicles.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has drafted guidelines on the electric vehicles making registration, fitness certificate and tax token mandatory for these.

The electric vehicles have been running on the roads despite having no permission in a country that faces power shortage.

Among these, the small passenger carrier, known as ‘Easy Bike’, is often blamed for causing accidents on the highways.

Opportunities for ‘Easy Bike’ to get legalised will be created through the new BRTA initiative.

The vehicles will be tested at Bangladesh University of Science and Technology (BUET) before the registration, BRTA officials said.

The BRTA sent the draft of ‘Electric Vehicle Registration and Operation Guidelines 2018’ to the Road Transport and Highway Division on November 26 last year.

The draft focuses on the same issues, which are already covered by legislations and regulations for motorised vehicles, the road transport and highway secretary said in a meeting on January 6.

Also, new guidelines are not needed as the electric vehicles can be controlled under the current Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1983, he observed.

It was decided in the meeting to send a delegation to India to observe the registration process and operation of electric vehicles before the BRTA would send a complete proposal to the ministry.

BRTA has been preparing the proposal, according to its director Sheikh Mohammed Mahbub-E-Rabbani.

The ministry said it would issue office orders, not guidelines, on the electric vehicles following the proposal, Rabbani said.

The electric vehicles will be registered too, if these fall under the office orders, but these must pass the safety test in BUET first, the BRTA director said when asked if ‘Easy Bike’ will be registered.

The issue is still under scrutiny, Nur Mohammed Majumdar, joint secretary at Road Transport and Highway Division, said on Monday.

“We will need regulations for the vehicles to operate (legally) in line with the existing policy." He added that inter-ministerial meetings will be needed to finalise the papers which will have to be approved finally by the cabinet.

WHY LEGALISE?

There is no specific statistics on electric vehicles operating in Bangladesh, but the ‘Easy Bike’ is visible both in urban and rural roads. The use of electric vehicles has been discouraged as of now because of its high power consumption.

“Interests in electric vehicles have increased globally. A few electric cars have reached Bangladesh as well,” said BRTA Director Rabbani as he explained the initiative to legalise the electric vehicles.

“We need to bring them under a policy as the electric cars have started entering our country.”

“There have been global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emission and prevent global warming by using fossil fuel-driven vehicles. It is necessary to bring it under a registration system as use of electric vehicles has begun in the country,” the draft guidelines say.

“Since these are not regular vehicles, the guidelines will decide how to register those,” said Rabbani.

More than 100,000 electric vehicles are running in the country without permits, said BRTA officials. Most of those are ‘Easy Bikes’ and similar three-wheelers. Import of good quality electric three-wheelers will be increased, when registration starts, the officials hope.

KEY POINTS IN THE DRAFT

The draft guidelines define electric vehicles as those running with power generated by rechargeable battery, which can be recharged through the main power supply line or renewable energy such as solar power and bio-energy.

Battery-run rickshaws and bicycles will not be part of the new move, according to the guidelines.

The life span of the electric vehicles is also noted in the policy—10 years for motorcycles, nine for three-wheelers, and 20 years for light, medium and heavy vehicles.

The registration process, fitness certification and route permit process will be same as engine-run motorised vehicles. However, those electric vehicles that operate on rent will need to have route permits from regional transport committees. The government will decide the fare, bdnews24.com reported.

Like other vehicles, electric vehicles will also need to have chassis numbers and motor numbers inscribed on the bodies or frames. The vehicles can have out-of-order motors replaced, the guidelines say.

The battery can be charged at the approved charging stations or under personal management using any renewable energy, like solar panel.

There is no official data on how much power the electric vehicles in Bangladesh consume.

Saiful Hasan, a director at the Bangladesh Power Development Board, assumes it could be 250 to 300 megawatts daily.

“We had thought these should be stopped to save power. But we are encouraging those vehicles now considering the environment. We have set up charging stations where these vehicles will be powered at commercial rates,” he added.

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