Indian mechanic invents COVID-19 ‘social distancing’ motorbike

AGARTALA, India: An Indian 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 COVID-19 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 to connect the wheels.

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Like countries around the world, the Indian government has imposed a nationwide lockdown

Like countries around the world, the Indian government has imposed a nationwide lockdown. (Photo: AFP/Abhisek Saha) 

“Now I can ride with my eight-year-old daughter while maintaining a safe distance,” he told AFP from Agartala in the northeastern state of Tripura.

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

As of Thursday, India had reported 33,050 cases of COVID-19, with 1,074 deaths.

When the nation extended its lockdown this month until at least May 3, Saha 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.

“I didn’t want her to take the school bus as it would be crowded,” said Saha, who works in a TV repair shop.

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

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

“The cost of charging it once comes to about 10 rupees (13 cents),” he added.

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

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


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