While countries across the world promote production and sales of electric vehicles, Bangladesh does not even have a guideline to regulate them.
A draft guideline was submitted to the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry in November 2018.
The ministry then sent a four-member delegation to India to gain experience.
But the initiative did not see the light of day. The ministry amended several sections of existing rules to register electric cars, but didn't finalise the draft. But issues remained unresolved.
Over two years later, the ministry asked the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) to revive the plan for creating a guideline. The latter has called a meeting over the issue today.
BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder will preside over the meeting.
Representatives from finance, environment, forest, and commerce ministries, the power division, National Board of Revenue (NBR), Accident Research Institute and Mechanical Department of Buet, major auto importers, and other agencies concerned were asked to join the meeting.
"We have updated the draft guidelines and called the meeting with stakeholders to change or incorporate issues," the BRTA chairman told The Daily Star yesterday.
"The ministry asked us to prepare the draft by holding several meetings. This would be the first one," he said when asked how long it would take to prepare the draft.
Although there are very few electric cars in the country, almost 10 lakh battery-powered three-wheelers are on the roads, said transport sector insiders.
The Road Transport and Highways Division in April 2018 took an initiative to formulate the guidelines after a number of people applied to register electric cars.
The BRTA then formed a committee with its officials and experts from Buet.
In November, 2018, the committee submitted the draft guideline. But the division asked BRTA to give a "self-sufficient" proposal after a team led by Nur Mohammad Mazumder, then joint secretary of the division, visited India.
The team then submitted a report. Finding that finalising the draft guidelines would be time consuming, the ministry decided to amend the rules of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983 to register electric vehicles, sources said. Only two such cars have been registered so far, they said.
"But the amended rules do not cover issues like how the charging stations will be operated and how the used batteries will be managed. The ministry asked us to formulate draft guidelines incorporating all issues," the BRTA chairman said.
As per the draft, electric vehicles must be registered and issued fitness certificate and route permit like any other vehicle.
As per the draft, battery-run rickshaws and bicycles do not come under the purview of the guidelines.
BRTA Director (road safety) Mahbub-E-Rabbani, also head of the draft formulation committee, told this correspondent in 2018 that the number of electric vehicles was increasing in the country.
"Electric vehicles are environmentally friendly. We want to expand the use of such vehicles. On the other hand, we want to control the use of the three wheelers that are poorly made," he had said.
Prof Md Ehsan, of mechanical engineering at Buet, said electric vehicles can reduce emission. But efficiency of electricity production must be improved.
Some two percent of the vehicles in the world are electric. Given the commitment of major car makers, the number would be 10 percent by 2030, he said.
The number of electric cars will rise within five to ten years in Bangladesh, he told this newspaper yesterday.
BATTERY-RUN THREE WHEELERS
The three-wheelers known as easy bikes are operating illegally, said Prof Ehsan, also a member of the committee.
The committee suggested bringing the easy-bikes under the purview of the guidelines, he said, adding that they need to be safer and meet some requirements.
The BRTA chairman said whether the easy bikes should be recognised as electric vehicles will be discussed at the meeting.
Hafizur Rahman Khan, chairman of Runner Group, said his company can produce better easy bikes than those seen on the streets but they do not produce these vehicles because the BRTA does approve easy bikes.
"It is good that the authority is going to formulate a guideline for electric vehicles," he told The Daily Star yesterday.