Thursday, January 17, 2019 | ePaper

Prepaid Gas meter project about to die

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THE New Nation reported that Titas Gas Company's target to install some 200,000 prepaid meters in Dhaka city is unlikely to be achieved within the time frame of December 2018 due to leakages in service lines, faulty connections, and consumers' unwillingness. Teams of the company have to leave consumers' houses keeping 40 percent meters uninstalled as there is a manpower shortage of the Titas-appointed contractors. Following a successful pilot project, the state-owned gas transmission and distribution company began commissioning the meters to prevent the misuse of gas and irregularities in billing. But it has got stuck in midway thus threatening the most-hyped project.

If successful, consumers will be able to pay gas bills using prepaid, rechargeable cards which will be made available through agents. It was a good initiative of Titas to take the project as flagship activity to stop waste of the nonrenewable natural resource.

The meters won't work if there's any leak either in service line or in household connection. So if leakage points exist  neither the consumers nor the company get advantage of the meters.

The project to install 200,000 Prepaid Gas Meters at household connections in different areas, including Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Bashundhara, Badda, Tejgaon, Cantonment, Kafrul, Khilkhet, Uttara, Mirpur and adjacent areas was taken in 2013. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved the project involving Tk 712 crore fixing the project completion period between January 2015 and December 2018. But three-fourths of the total period was lost in red-tapism well before the start of the project.

Finally, Titas started installing meters on September 17 last year, but started facing problems shortly.

From 2012 to 2015, Titas installed 8,600 prepaid meters in the Lalmatia, Dhanmondi and Mohammadpur areas of Dhaka to combat the wastage of natural gas and system loss, enhance efficient domestic energy use, and help ensure energy savings vis-a-vis national energy security. Since receiving their meters, the consumers of Lalmatia and Dhanmondi areas have been paying less than the fixed rate for gas. Aligning the government's digitized policies and modernization, the project has a huge impact on consumers' satisfaction, evading system loss, and making effective use of natural gas. Definitely, the project is long due as the European countries introduced the prepaid metering system in the 1970's and Bangladesh opted for depending on renewable energy.

The gas reserve is not unlimited and we should use the gift of nature very carefully, meaning it should be used efficiently. But system loss, illegal connections, waste in households have hindered the ensuring of the optimum usability of natural gas, though the highest quantity of gas is burnt to get electricity, which is in contrast to the sustainable development policy. We still hope that Titas will accomplish the task within 2018 after fixing faulty lines and service lines while consumers should get positive awareness.

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