Industry Desk: Petrobangla has initiated a move to bring an end to the existing monopoly of a particular foreign company in its pre-paid gas metering system.
“We’ve already received the government’s policy approval to allow battery-run pre-paid gas meter,” Petrobangla Chairman Zanendra Nath Sarker told.
According to official sources, a Japanese company has been providing all the pre-paid gas meters which are synchronized with Titas and other distribution companies’ data accumulation system while others’ systems are not synchronised due to a monopoly in the system. They said the government took a decision more than three years ago to allow consumers to install pre-paid gas meters besides the ongoing process of installing meters by the gas distribution companies. Under the decision, any vendor can sell pre-paid gas meters, like pre-paid electricity meters, in the open market and any consumer can buy it to install at his/her own cost.
Such a decision was taken in order to expedite the process of installing pre-paid meters for consumers’ benefit. Because, if a gas meter is installed, it will check misuse of gas as well as cut the overall cost of consumers.
In the existing system, a pre-paid gas consumer pays almost one-third of the bill normally paid by a non-metered consumer.
But so far, no public or private company has shown any interest in getting involved in the pre-paid meter business because of the monopoly of a certain company in the data acquisition system of Titas Gas and other distribution companies.
Some industry insiders alleged that the data accumulation system of Titas Gas remained monopolised by a particular meter-manufacturing company where meters from other companies are not synchronized.
This has jeopardised implementation of the government’s plan to introduce pre-paid gas meters for all, industry insiders observed.
Petrobangla chairman said that they are contacting multilateral agencies like ADB, World Bank and JBIC to get funds to install more pre-paid gas meters across the country.
Petrobangla Director (Operation and Mines) Md. Kamruzzaman Khan said that a technical committee has been formed. “Now it has been working to eliminate the monopoly by introducing a unique language in the system so that any company complying with certain standards can have access to the data accumulation system of the distribution entities,” he said.
“We hope 10-12 companies will make a demonstration on the issue in the current month,” he added.
According to a study conducted by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), there are about 4.15 million consumers in the domestic category in the country. The number break-up: Titas Gas has 2.78 million consumers, Bakhrabad Gas 0.491 million, Jalalabad Gas 0.417 million, Poschimanchol Gas 0.128 million, Karnaphuli Gas 0.65 million, and Sundarban Gas has 0.0035 million consumers.
The latest figure released by Titas Gas, however, shows it has more than 2.8 million household consumers.
The latest study by Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) shows that a pre-paid metered consumer uses 40-50 cubic meter of gas and pays around Tk 500-630 a month while a non-metered consumer for a single burner has to pay almost double, at Tk 990, for the same quantity of consumption.
So far only 400,000 pre-paid gas meters have been installed in different areas in Dhaka city including Dhanmondi, Mohammadpur, Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Uttara, Mohammadpur, Badda, Tejgaon, Cantonment, Kafrul, Khilkhet, and Mirpur under a JICA-funded project.
Another 120,000 metres are now being installed in different areas in central Dhaka, including Paltan, Ramna, New Market, Khilgaon and Segunbagicha under Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC). Most consumers of Titas Gas and other distribution companies remain unmetered.
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