School drop-out builds ‘social distancing’ bike

AGARTALA: An school drop-out has built a motorbike with a one-metre gap between the rider and the passenger to drive home the importance of social distancing in the coronavirus pandemic.

Partha Saha, 39, bought an old bike from a scrap dealer, removed the engine and cut the machine in two before affixing a rod slightly longer than a metre (3.2 feet) to connect the wheels.

The mechanic has already tried out his invention on the streets, leaving onlookers stunned at the design and drawing praise from Biplab Kumar Deb, Tripura’s chief minister.

“Necessity is the mother of invention! I congratulate Partha Saha… for making a unique motorcycle to create awareness during COVID-19 pandemic,” Deb tweeted.

When the nation extended its lockdown, Saha, who works in a TV repair shop realised the battle against the virus might not be over any time soon.

He used up his meagre savings to make the vehicle, which he plans to use to ferry his daughter to and from school once the restrictions are lifted.

“Now I can ride with my eight-year-old daughter while maintaining a safe distance as I didn’t want her to take the school bus as it would be crowded,” he told AFP from Agartala in the northeastern state of Tripura.

His new bike runs on battery power and has a top speed of 40kmp.

It takes three hours to charge the battery, which allows the bike to travel 80 kilometres, Saha said.

“The cost of charging it once comes to about 10 rupees (50 fils),” he added.

Partha Saha assembles his modified bike designed for social distancing inside his garage at his house, in Aralia village on the outskirts of Agartala. Image Credit: AFP

Like other countries, India too has imposed a nationwide lockdown and urged citizens to practise social distancing to curb the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, India had reported 37,336 cases of COVID-19, with 1,223 deaths.

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