2022-02-28 17:36:09

Promoting e-Rickshaws as Public Transport and e-Ambulance for Emergency Health Supporting Services

In the Bangladeshi city of Singra (population: 30,000+), where a public transportation system is non-existent, the rickshaw is a popular mode of transportation for low-income and middle-income residents. As owners converted pulled rickshaws to electric ones by simply installing a motor and a battery, along with the absence of safe and organised charging stations, a safety risk was looming on the horizon. Therefore, the city stepped in to regulate this practice while taking the opportunity to promote e-rickshaws as a tool of public and emergency transportation.

The city launched this initiative with banknotes and brainpower from international partners. The main goal is to promote a modernised, low-cost, and eco-friendly public transportation system in order to ensure efficient energy usage, reduce carbon emissions and air pollution, and provide emergency health support for the residents. The city assembled a fleet using lithium-ion batteries to ensure better battery life, safety, and cost-effectiveness. It also built a parking station to place and charge the e-rickshaws in a designated area. In addition, the city established a 24/7 call centre for transportation and ambulance services, the latter of which is free of charge to low-income people. Since its launch, the city has generated 80% of the expected revenue. About 5,000 people use the rickshaws per day, and the call centre receives 40 calls on average per month. 

This initiative is unprecedented in Bangladesh, as no city in the country invested in public transportation – what considered as a burden and loss. As the Singra case shows, this has created a new source of municipal revenue besides improving transportation and job opportunities. It has also played a significant role during the coronavirus pandemic, as these vehicles were used to transport health workers, deliver daily necessities, and supply food to low-income people.

This initiative is particularly relevant to SDGs 3 (good health and wellbeing), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), and 13 (climate actions).