The first- ever consignment of electric-powered rickshaws known locally as Keke, which arrived in the country recently, will soon start running after they were launched past Saturday by Neev Sierra Leone- the company managing them.
According to Neev officials, the coming of the chargeable kekes is expected to see a reduction in fares for passengers since they do not run on petrol.
Neev’s Chief Operating Officer, Emmanuella Sandy said they expect about 50 percent reduction in fares compared to the petrol- using kekes.She told attendees at the launch in Freetown that they are eco-friendly and will ease the transportation challenges faced by commuters.
She also introduced a set of motorcycles that she said are not using petrol and will also hit the road for commercial purpose shortly.The kekes have solar panels to back up energy supply.
Ms. Sandy told the gathering that about 66 of the kekes and 10 motorcycles would be on the streets of the Western Area next week.
She also told the gathering that the Unions of keke and commercial bike riders are ready to work with them especially since the price of fuel keeps rising.
Designated Outlets for recharging them will be identified, she stated.
The ultimate goal for Neev Salone as a company is to secure a plant with equipment for assembling them in the country that could employ some 500 workers, with the goal of employing up to 2,000 staff as they intend on assembling electric vehicles here as well, she disclosed.
She added that they also aim to be exporting them to other neighbouring countries in the sub region.
Ms. Sandy also disclosed that they have also trained seven drivers, and called on women to come onboard.
Chief Operations Supervisor, Solomon Tucker, noted that early October last year they invited the manufacturers to the country to ascertain if they fit the Sierra Leonean terrain considering the mountainous environment, and got approval. He said they will be expanding to the provinces in the future.
The CEO of the company, Moses Sandy, said they want to replace all transportation in the country with clean energy or solar energy within the next four to five years.
He later told Politico that the initiative came about with the aim of seeing Sierra Leone taking the lead in green energy.
He also noted that they will also create job opportunities for the youths in the country.
Responding to a question on how long would the charging last, he said a charged keke and bike will run for 120 kilometers and for the backed with solar energy will reach up to 150 kilometers, which he described as almost a whole day riding.
Several government officials including Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Saa Emerson Lamina, attended the event and applauded the investment.