- Currently, demand for helmets in Bangladesh is around 20 lakh per year
- Demand for helmets rises by 20% every year
- More than 50 importers are bringing in at least 15 brands of helmets
- 80% of the helmets are imported from China
- The rest are imported from India, Thailand and Indonesia
- Helmets are not being manufactured in Bangladesh yet
- Bikers in small cities and towns often do not use any kind of helmet due to lax implementation of laws
Bangladesh has become a large market for motorbike helmets in the last two-three years. Presently, the demand has reached around 20 lakh helmets per year.
Further, the demand for helmets is rising by 20 percent each year, said the biggest importers of helmets in the country.
At present, more than 50 importers are bringing in the helmets of at least 15 brands from different countries including: China, India, Indonesia, and Thailand.
"Eighty percent of all helmets are imported from China. Among the rest, more than 18 percent are being imported from India while two percent are imported from Thailand and Indonesia", said Sarwar Morshed, owner of Yohe International, the largest helmet importer of Bangladesh.
He said helmets are not being manufactured in Bangladesh yet. However some companies are manufacturing low quality plastic-caps which are being used by ride-sharing service providers.
MA Hasem, a retailer at Bongsal, said the helmet business had been expanding for the last few years but it really changed following the student movement for road safety.
"Many retailers in Bongsal entered this business, switching from their earlier businesses, and the trend is continuing," he added.
Replying to a query, he said people in Bangladesh rarely buy helmets for safety. Instead, they use helmets, which are low quality and cheap, to dodge law enforcement.
He also said even the country's importers rarely bring in the best quality helmets – DOT and ECE 22.05 certified – which are very costly.
STM, Yohe, Steelbird, Vega, Studds, Yema, and MIBK are top-selling helmets in Bangladesh, said Hasem.
Another big importer, Sheikh Samsuddin, owner of STM Concord, said the country's helmet market is growing gradually as new importers and businessmen are joining this sector every day.
"The fact that new people are joining the business has increased the competition. But the helmets' quality is decreasing, because everybody wants to provide helmets at lower prices," he added.
The businessmen did this as most bikers search for low priced helmets disregarding the safety, complained Samsuddin.
He said that the government should formulate rules making it compulsory for bikers to wear DOT and ECE 22.05 certified helmets.
Sarwar Morshed said less than 10 percent bikers use good-quality helmets.
"Moreover, bikers in small cities and towns often do not use any kind of helmet due to lax implementation of laws. If the road safety act is implemented all over the country demand for helmets will rise," he added.
Replying to a query, Sheikh Samsuddin said although there are around 50 importers, five to six of them meet the lion's share of total demand for helmets in the country.