‘Made in Nepal’ is what is trending these days. Contributing to ‘made in Nepal’ development for the production of goods, five Nepali youths have given it a bit different direction and produced an electric wheelchair.
‘Leopard’ is a chargeable vehicle which can run for approximately two hours and a half when fully charged. The top speed of the wheelchair is 10 KM per hour. The charging time of Leopard is just three hours after which it can run for 25 kilometers straight.
The inventors are: Suneel Pariyar, Santosh Raj Neupane, Bharat KC, Prajesh Shrestha, and Mensun Lakhemaru. The team members themselves have also made some financial contribution to the project. CIL (Independent Living Centre), which is an organization for the person with disabilities has funded the team.
Using just the word ‘electric’ is not enough to describe this ‘Leopard’ as it has several other features that lead us to think why actually is this wheelchair worth it. It has a bag beneath the seat for urine disposal. It has a pouch available for the medicines and space for a water bottle as well. It also has GPS tracking system so that the kin of the user can keep a track of where they are and be able to reach them easily whenever they are in need of help.
If all above-mentioned features were not enough, ‘Leopard’ has a joystick fitted for the users to control the ‘device’. Not just that, it has quite an impressive look with couch-like seat.
Coming to the wheels, it looks interesting as the bigger wheels are placed in the front while smaller ones at the back, keeping the roads of Kathmandu in mind.
But are they feasible for Nepal and its roads?
Both yes and no. Because with no specific lane for the wheelchairs, it is not as safe. Also, this prototype has no side-view mirrors. This will add to the danger as the user can’t keep a track of the vehicles running behind it, it increases the chance of an accident.
Adding to it, the roads are quite uneven and have pits and holes everywhere. But, one thing that can help is the big wheels in front. The bigger wheels were put at front keeping in mind the condition of roads.
The price tag is what comes to our mind as soon as we get acquainted with the convenience this vehicle provides. It is priced at Rs. 300,000. It is still out of reach for most of the Nepali people from a monetary perspective.
So, what is so good about this wheelchair that we should use it instead of the imported one? Well, the inventors say that it has been built for Nepali roads.
The Finance Minister, Uday Samsher Rana has assured the team that government subsidy will be provided for the manufacturing of these wheelchairs and the taxes would not be levied for the parts to be used for the wheelchair which can reduce the production cost of the wheelchair.
With all the pros and cons mentioned, it’s still too early to make a judgment whether or not will it be useful enough or successful enough. But one thing is for sure that, it is a very positive step towards the convenience of a person with disabilities. Hopefully, the shortcomings will be addressed as soon as possible. We surely will come to an analysis in near future on our own.