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Developer of prototype tri-wheeler is caught in uncertainty

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By Farhad Naibkhel-Talents lurk around every corner of Afghanistan but need support to lead the war-torn country towards further progress. An Afghan innovator Mustafa, who with fewer facilities made a solar powered bike-cum-car, is a good example that gives a glimpse about the whole story of inspiration, passion and talent but left unpolished.

Mustfa is not the only talented innovator but several Afghan built different astonishing machines including water pump, car, robots, and so on. However, due to lack of facilities no one succeeded to turn the prototypes in large-scale production. Instead of encouragement they get only disappointment and their prototypes are made fun.

Afghanistan is a war-weary country which direly needs qualified engineers and skilled innovators. There is no lack of talent in the country, but there is no clear supportive program to push them toward further development

“I worked hard and bore many difficulties to build the solar powered motorbike, but after making the bike-cum-car my problems increased. Even traffic wardens were asking me for documents such as registration. They were not supportive and did not know that it was a prototype,” said    Mustafa Mohammadi, a 25-year old self-made mechanical engineer without recognition.

Talking to Kabulscape, he said that he returned to Afghanistan from Iran after many years to prove himself as a good servant of Afghans, but unfortunately was faced to some challenge that made him hopeless.

“I worked tirelessly for several months to build the bike-cum car, but now don’t have permission to drive it on the streets. Traffic police and other relevant organizations do not allow me and ask for documents though I repeatedly told them that it is a prototype,” he lamented.

Expressing grievance over lack of cooperation and encouragement on part of the government, he said that creating barriers in front of the talented Afghans resulted in brain drain. Narrating his ordeal, Mustafa said that since making the bike no high-ranking official encouraged him but even denied to give him permission to ride the bike on roads and streets which is essential to know about efficiency of the bike.

Replying to a query, Mustafa said that he has built the solar-powered motorbike to reduce air pollution in the country. Solar panels have been installed on roof of the bike-cum-car to help it to move at a speed of 40 kilometers per hour, he added. To keep the rider and the passenger at back safe from dust and rains, Mustafa designed the motorbike similar to a small car, which has one door to get inside and of course roof.

The motorbike besides solar powered engine has pedals to ply on the roads, so it would never stop even if there were some technical problems. This bike was built at a cost of Afs90,000 and carries two people.

Regarding further improvement in the bike, he said that he wanted to install more powerful engine but failed to find the motor with high power. “I have imported motor with some other parts for this motorbike from China.”

Mustafa’s family left Afghanistan to Iran due to civil wars. He was born in the neighboring country and remained associated with engineering field for nine years in Iran. After collapse of the Taliban regime Mustafa with his family returned to Kabul. He got admission into a higher secondary school and helping his father. He said that he has many plans to make different types of vehicles and other machinery run by solar power to reduce pollution and fuel expenditure but lacked the required facilities and support.

Unavailability of spare parts and motors in the country is a major challenge for him that hampers his efforts. He is left with no other choice but to import the imperative tools and parts from abroad, which need budget, time and some documents.

He seems quite disappointed because the government has no policy to support the innovators.

Policymakers should pay heed to problems of the young innovators to build a soft and bright image of the country in the world. No doubt that without appreciation and support it is not possible. Therefore, the government should allocate a specific amount in the budget to provide the imperative facilities to Afghan innovators and provide some necessary concessions to them such as exemption from taxes and legal formalities and registration of the vehicle that are only for test purpose. Moreover, the intellectual property right should be safeguarded.