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Battery-run rickshaws still on streets amid power crisis

Battery-run rickshaws still on streets amid power crisis

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THAKURGAON: Although the government resorted to some austerity measures to save electricity amid the ongoing energy crisis, a large number of battery-operated rickshaws continue to run across the country causing shortage of electricity.

Power Development Board (PDB) authorities in the district have identified some reasons for the rampant load shedding that’s crippling peoples’ lives in the district, among which battery-operated rickshaws have found a top spot, reports UNB.

According to Thakurgaon municipality, although the number of registered battery-run rickshaws in the municipality is 2,400, in reality around 4,000 such rickshaws are plying the streets.

These vehicles are consuming 330,00 units of electricity on average per day and  9,90,000 units of electricity per month, it said.

A household consumes around 300 units of electricity per month, which means that a total of 3,300 families can use this amount of electricity that is used for charging battery-run rickshaws.

Owners of charger stations in Thakurgaon municipality said that they take Tk 80 to Tk 100 for charging battery of the rickshaws. Besides, driver of a battery-powered rickshaw has to give Tk 300 to its owner per day.

“A fully charged battery-run rickshaw can travel 200 kilometers. Sometimes charge diminishes within afternoon for plying longer distances. A driver of such rickshaws earns Tk 700 to Tk 800 per day,” said Md Kalam, an easybike driver, of the district.

Mohammad Mamunur Rashid, Executive Engineer of Thakurgaon Power Development Board (PDB), said that there are separate electricity rates for charging stations.

“Flat rate for charging battery-powered rickshaws is Tk 7.64, while off peak rate is Tk 6.88 and peak rate is Tk 9.55. Those who use double tariff meters pay their bills as per peak and off peak rates, while those with single tariff meters pay their bills in flat rate,” Mamunur said.

Following a high-level meeting at the prime minister’s office on July18, Prime Minister’s Energy Advisor Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury announced the Bangladesh government’s plan to resort to two hours of power cuts daily in each zone to tackle the energy crisis affecting electricity generation in the country.

Later in the day, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid apprised reporters of the revised decision of one hour of load shedding daily.

Following the government’s decision, different power distribution entities – Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited and Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited – published their area-wise outage plans.

The government also announced a slew of measures for saving electricity, including the closure of shopping malls and markets by 8pm and the restricted use of air-conditioners. Plans are afoot to limit office hours and keep fuel outlets closed one day every week.