Four years ago under Pakistan’s federal government plan to reduce dependency on fossil fuel, Bilal Afridi, a resident of Peshawar introduced environment-friendly and economical electric rickshaws in the provincial metropolitan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Afridi brought 12 vehicles on a trial basis, that was appreciated by provincial legislatures at that time.
The local government minister in the previous tenure of Pakistan Tehrik Insaf (PTI) inaugurated the inexpensive vehicles in the congested Peshawar valley where more traffic adding to the higher consumption of petroleum products.
However, investor Bilal Afridi became shuttlecock among the typical provincial bureaucracy, where the excise and transport departments created hurdles in the project.
Afridi explained that he visited time and again to the concerned authorities for issuance of the permit for plying the rickshaws on Peshawar’s road but all in a vain. He invested money and was planning with partners to further expend the investment in fossil-fuel-free transportation and environment-friendly vehicle for the first in KP.
“Excise and Transport departments were creating hurdles in paperwork. Everywhere in the world public servant provides a smooth atmosphere for investors but in our country bureaucracy disappoint them,” stated Afridi. “the Billions of dollars budget of petroleum products is a big loss for a country like Pakistan and I wanted to control that damage in my personal capacity,” Afridi shared his view regarding electric vehicles.
To control expenditures on fossils fuel and provide a clean environment, the federal government is now working on a plan to introduce and also encourage electric vehicles in Pakistan.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Crises Malik Amin Aslam told media, “During the first phase, the government will work on technical issues in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi”.
“In CNG stations government will arrange electric charging units to facilitate and promote the electric vehicle in Pakistan.”
According to Regional Transport Authority (RTA) data, in Peshawar’s urban area there are 24,614 Rickshaws, 1146 Mini Buses, 1150 Buses and 5701 cabs.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police Kashif Zulfiqar, there are more than 60,000 unregistered rickshaws and thousands of vehicles which comes from other cities. Peshawar is a small city and roads are not built for such huge numbers of vehicles, he stated.
“Peshawar main routes capacity has a range of 100,000 vehicles but it reaches up to one million daily. Indeed it creates unbearable noise and air pollution and consumption of petroleum increases.”
Pakistan mainly depends upon oil and gas and now also coal resources to fulfil energy requirements. The domestic production of crude oil remained 24.6 million barrels during July – March FY2019 compared to 21.8 million barrels during the corresponding period last year.
Indigenous resources of oil are not enough to quench the energy thirst of a growing population and economy. As a result, Pakistan has to import a large quantity of oil as well as oil-based products from Middle Eastern countries, especially from Saudi Arabia.
According to research paper Electric Vehicles [EVs] in Pakistan: Policy Recommendations published in January 2019. Fossils fuel pollutes the environment and due to the combination of air pollutants, such as Carbon Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide and Oxides of Nitrogen, with the moisture in the air. The transport and energy sectors in Pakistan have become the leading contributor towards environmental deterioration and needs to be addressed with utmost priority.
Professor Hizbullah teaches at University of Peshawar’s Environmental Sciences department, he termed fossils fuel the expensive and pollutants; policymakers should work on alternate of electric vehicles. “The most hazardous is Diesel and Petrol and then CNG, it affects human, animal, infrastructure and crops”. Hizbullah stated.
“If the government goes for other than hydroelectricity then it will further bring disaster to the already worse environment,” he said, adding, “The only way forward to live in less expensive and clean world, we have to end the dependency on fossil fuel and to follow the brilliant idea of electric vehicles.”
According to research papers, Electric Vehicles in Pakistan not only cut requirement on fossils fuel but will also establish a whole new industry. Indigenous assembling or manufacturing of EVs has the potential to add hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities and so reduce the significantly high unemployment rates.
The most substantial contribution of EVs will be a reduction in tailpipe emissions from vehicular transport which will directly translate into improved air quality. An ambient air will in return translate into improved health of the people across Pakistan.
Bilal Afridi is still willing and waiting for green signals from government officials to kick-off his electric vehicle business. “Now the federal government has also announced relaxed policy regarding electric vehicles and I am sure I will get chance for better environment and human,”said Afridi.