Social distancing being the prime concern as a means of social awareness amid the pandemic, many people are preferring to use bicycles instead of public transport.
Bangladesh is the most beneficiary of this trend due to the steady increase of bicycle exports. On the other hand, the use of bicycles has gone further up in Europe due to the rising severity of coronavirus in the region.
Bangladesh exported bicycles worth $84 million against a target of $85 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to data by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). In fiscal year 2019-20, exports were $82.6 million against a target of $100 million.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has already earned $84.58 million from bicycle exports, until the February of the current fiscal year, which indicates a 40 per cent year-on-year growth.
“The sector is doing well in exports. It is difficult to determine the total amount of bicycles exported by different companies. However, our organisation is also experiencing positive growth,” said Md Luthful Bari, director of operations of Meghna Group, a major bicycle exporter in the country.
Back in 2017, Bangladesh became the third-largest exporter of bicycles to the UK and the EU, according to data published by Eurostat.
At present, eight companies in the country export bicycles, two of which are in the Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ). Besides, there are bicycle manufacturing companies in Dhaka, Gazipur, and Sylhet.
Malaysian company Alita (BD) was the pioneer of bicycle exports in Bangladesh based in Chattogram with the export of 37,000 bicycles to the UK back in 1995.
In the last five years, more than 8 lakh bicycles were exported by Alita (BD), said its General Manager AHM Ferdous.
Initially, the company started with 150 workers, which has now increased to 400 workers. Since the beginning the company has exported about 25 lakh bicycles to EU countries.
Mostly mountain bikes, city bikes, and BMS bikes are exported to these countries. These bikes range in price from $60 to $160 per unit.
About 500 to 600 bicycles are produced at the factory every day, said Debashish Chowdhury, a supervisor in the factory who has been working there since 1995.
About 30 to 40 per cent of the raw materials for making these bicycles come from China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, Ferdous added.
“Our bicycles are becoming more available in EU countries. The bikes we make also have destinations in England, Poland, and Spain. Exports are increasing every year. Although this was the first export-oriented factory in Chittagong, now various companies are also manufacturing bicycles for export in Dhaka,” Ferdous said.
“We have plans to make more high-quality bikes as well as electric bikes in the future,” he added.