E-Mobility Public Transport Improvement Project

The TUMI Challenge “Electric Mobility as public transport & emergency response​” in Singra, Bangladesh supported building resilience of public health and transport services, by providing the know-how to locally manufacture lithium batteries for electric vehicles and supporting the development of a public transport system in the small town.


Project Description

When public transport was discontinued nationwide, the city continued necessary services with the E-Rikshaws introduced during the TUMI Challenge. The vehicles were used to make 70-80 deliveries of daily necessities and food to the needy every day, several times a month (medical) awareness is raised in all parts of the city through loudspeaker announcements from the vehicles, and Corona patients, medical staff and during the lockdown Corona tests and samples can be transported. At the same time, these services have secured the jobs of the drivers.

The expansion of formal public transport is essential to ensure resilience. For example, formal public transport can continue to operate during a lockdown and, unlike the informal transport sector, is safer and more reliable. In addition, measures such as disinfection, maintaining distance by limiting the number of passengers, and the targeted connection of specific locations to the public transport system are only possible through a strengthened and publicly operated transport system.

Previous TUMI Challenge in SingraArrow

Project's Objective

The main objectives of the project were:

  • Improvements to building and charging infrastructure
  • Introducing e-boats to the flood season as well as sustainable batteries.
  • Design support for battery swaps and increased range and environmental advantages
  • Procurement of motors and batteries for boats
  • Support in creating expertise on lithium ion battery exchanges
  • Through sector cooperation, also solar installations and charging efficiency improvements will be made

Key Outputs

  • Know-how to manufacture a DIY (Do It Yourself) lithium battery for the electric vehicles locally 
  • organizing an independent battery workshop where all the essential tools, equipment and components are available for the assembling process of making a lithium battery pack 

Main Outcomes

  • First time that in Bangladesh Lithium battery packs are made locally. 
  • Purchased of 10 e-rickshaws, built of garage for mechanics and storage, installed PV system for grid integrated charging​.
  • First public transport route in Singra was established, for citizens who live in areas previously underserved by the private rickshaw operators. 
  • Provision of emergency medical transport services in all areas of the city was established. During Covid-19, the use of vehicles were transformed to make food deliveries, transport the sick and support citizens as possible. 
  • Ten drivers have been employed through the city on a permanent basis (salary/incentive model) 
  • Driver safety training for drivers through BRAC (a local NGO) 
  • Strengthening local production of electric vehicles through purchase local company (4 of 10 vehicles)
  • Singra Municipality received the Urban Resilience Award for its works on e-mobility by ICCCAD in October 2019. 

Challenges and Learnings



  • “Battery” is a main challenge to adopt Electric Vehicles in Bangladesh. Electric Vehicle owners have been struggling for the conventional lead-acid battery due to its very short life and hazardous chemical effects. 
  • The pilot phase has provided evidence that some minor adaptations will have to be made for the project to ensure viable, long-term success. Examples of this would include the purchase of higher quality batteries (lithium-ion) as well as additional driver training. 


  • Singra Municipality had no previous experience in working with GIZ or in the field of sustainable transport/mobility or electric vehicles. Basic knowledge and technical knowledge had to be built up to allow the project to be a success. 
  • The main element of the battery “Lithium” isn’t available everywhere. Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, USA, Australia & China are the high-ranked manufacturing countries. 
  • It should also be considered to increase the number of vehicles to optimize the system and increase the viability of the project as a whole. 

Potentials for Scaling Up

Based on the available data after the COVID-19 pandemic, 6% of all trips made in Singra were using the TUMI e-rickshaws. This shows that such an approach has the potential to be scaled within the city to ensure safe, fair and transparent mobility options for all citizens. 

Following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, adaptations had to be made, and the project showed remarkable flexibility and resilience. 

With the newly gathered experience, the Singra Municipality now has an understanding and knowledge in interacting with international partners, preparing the ground to intensify cooperation and to initiate new partnerships and sharing this knowledge with others. 

The Team

Frederic Tesfay

Project Manager

Frederic Tesfay is a Project Manager focused on project implementation. A Mechanical Engineer by education, Frederic immediately went into project management within the field of construction; having worked two years in USA and a further five years for GIZ in Africa. After developing a strong focus on monitoring and controlling, he then successfully began managing a variety of projects in the field of technical education and capacity building in Asia.

Supported by


Local Governments for Sustainability

ICLEI is the leading global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future. By helping the ICLEI Network to become sustainable, low-carbon, resilient, ecomobile, biodiverse, resource-efficient and productive, healthy and happy, with a green economy and smart infrastructure, we impact over 25% of the global urban population.

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