DHAKA, July 25 (Reuters) - The tuktuk, the popular three-wheeled vehicle widely used in Thailand, made their debut on the crowded streets of Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Thursday as a replacement for baby taxis blamed for polluting the city.
International Project Support Services System Limited (IPSSL), a Bangladeshi company imported the Thai vehicle, which runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), after Bangladesh decided to ban the baby taxis run by petrol.
"The vehicle is completely pollution free and also environment friendly," said IPSSL managing director Haider Uzzaman during a formal launching of Tuktuk service in Dhaka.
He said the IPSSL would import 1,000 tuktuks by next month from Thai manufacturer Nattachote Industries Company Limited (NICL).
Haider said his company would assemble tuktuks in Bangladesh in a joint venture with NICL with an investment of $500,000.
"The assembling of the vehicle will begin at the start of 2003 at a plant near Dhaka," he said.
He said the plant would assemble about 500 tuktuks a year. The tuktuk will be renamed later, he added.
A three-seater tuktuk will cost 230,000 taka ($4000) and a 10-seater 260,000 taka, he said.
Bangladesh Communications Minister Nazmul Huda told the launching ceremony that Bangladesh banned petrol-run black-smoke emitting three-wheeled baby taxis from September 1 in a drive to check air pollution.
There are about 35,000 baby taxis in Dhaka alone.
Bangladesh, having 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in reserves, has already started conversion of engines of cars and other vehicles to run on CNG.