May 4, 2018-Imports of electric rickshaws and tempos reached 20,029 units in the last fiscal year, up 38 percent from the previous year, said the Department of Transport Management.
Meanwhile, imports of e-rickshaws through Sirsiya Dry Port in Birgunj have swelled with the eco-friendly vehicles gaining rapid popularity in the southern Tarai plains due to their low cost. As many as 1,100 electric three-wheelers passed through the dry port in the first nine months of the current fiscal year.
Earlier, the vehicle used to be imported through the Birgunj Customs point only. According to Surya Sedai, chief of the customs office at the dry port, e-rickshaws worth Rs234.3 million were imported during the review period. “Most of the imports are from China.”
The government has waived VAT and other taxes and only charges 10 percent import duty on e-rickshaws in a bid to promote environment-friendly vehicles. By contrast, the government levies taxes totalling 127 percent on imports of gasoline-powered three-wheelers.
Electric rickshaws have become the most popular means of public transportation among low-income people. Nearly 2,000 e-rickshaws ply the streets of Birgunj alone.
When India imposed a trade embargo on Nepal in 2015, virtually cutting of gasoline supplies, motor vehicle traffic came to a grinding halt in all major cities across the country. Autos went off the streets, and people had to travel on foot.
However, there were a few towns where public transportation was not affected by the gasoline shortage due to the e-rickshaws, locally known as city safari. The use of electric three-wheelers has seen an abrupt rise since then.
Students and farmers have been the biggest beneficiaries of this environment-friendly vehicle which is relatively inexpensive. E-rickshaws have also emerged as an affordable and accessible means of transport for farmers. Nowadays, farmers transport their harvest to market using e-rickshaws.
A short journey within the city costs Rs20-50 per passenger while the fare for long distances depends on the route. Nepal can reduce its ballooning dependency on imported petroleum products if e-rickshaws are promoted, particularly in the southern plains where they can run smoothly and are a low emitter, officials said.
These electric vehicles can travel more than 100 km on a full charge. However, they are not suitable in the hills and mountains because they cannot negotiate steep gradients.
Source : The Kathmandu post