September 06, 2017
In a move supporting the physically challenged population of the country, a team of Nepali engineers came up with a smart electric wheelchair, which the team claims as first-of-its kind product from the country.
The Centre for Independent Living (CIL) supported the team in their efforts.
This smart wheelchair, branded as Leopard, was launched and demonstrated at a programme in Kathmandu.
“We came up with the idea of inventing a user-friendly wheelchair after seeing the helpless condition of handicapped people in the wake of the earthquakes last year,” said Sunial Pariyar (27), designer of the product.
In his address, the President of CIL Ganesh KC said, “The commercial production of such electric wheelchairs will be possible only with government support and we are working for that.”
However, Ganesh raised concerns over the country’s road infrastructure and urged the government to work on ensuring disabled-friendly road infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Finance Uday Shamsher Rana assured of governmental support to the team in building their careers as entrepreneurs. “We can work on exempting taxes against import of batteries, joysticks and other sophisticated materials needed for manufacturing such wheelchairs,” said the minister.
The National Federation of the Disabled Nepal Chairperson Sudarshan Subedi informed that the country currently has 7,000 physically challenged population in dire need of such wheelchairs.
While Nepal has a total of 70,000 physically challenged population, only an estimated 30,000 manual wheelchairs are currently in use. So, the increased production of smart wheelchairs production would suffice the major requirements.
According to the team, this smart wheelchair can run up to 25 km at a speed of 10 km per hour on a single charge and the location of wheelchairs can also be traced through a mobile application.