Lonely Planet Writer

Pakistan hopes to improve Peshawar air quality with ambitious plan for E-Rickshaws

The Pakistani city of Peshawar has been rated as the sixth most polluted city on earth, but government officials hope to dramatically improve the city’s air quality by replacing Peshawar’s polluting auto-rickshaws with shiny new electronic rickshaws, produced as part of a joint venture between Pakistan, China and Japan.

A rickshaw in Pakistan.
A rickshaw in Pakistan. Image by Waqas Mustafeez / CC BY 2.0

The new E-Rickshaws can accommodate up to four passengers, with a maximum speed of 45 km per hour, and a single two-hour charge gives a range of around 50km. The vehicles produce no emissions and are almost silent – an added boon in a city where noise pollution is routinely above the World Health Organisation recommended limit of 85 decibels.

While the benefits of the scheme speak for themselves, cost may be an obstacle to widespread take-up of the new environmentally-friendly vehicles. The launch cost of a new auto-rickshaw has been estimated at Rs240,000 (US$2300), more than twice the annual salary for many people in the city, though the government has pledged to help with start-up costs for drivers who participate in the scheme.

As well as helping to reduce Peshawar’s atmospheric pollution – which has been measured at four times the recommended safe limit – the E-Rickshaws are also safer for both driver and passengers. The majority of Peshawar’s estimated 50,000 old-fashioned auto-rickshaws are ageing and poorly maintained, and many drivers and passengers have been injured in recent years by exploding gas tanks.