90 pc vehicles have no gas cylinder validity
Zahid Hossain Biplob : In Bangladesh, some 90 percent gas cylinders of every type of compressed natural gas-run (CNG) vehicles are running with expired gas cylinders imposing serious threat for the life of the passengers and drivers. Around 60 percent people are travelling by bus, according to the data of BRTA and BUET.
The gas cylinders of 44 percent buses have no validity, followed by 36 percent for trucks and 9 percent for auto-rickshaw.
Thousands of CNG-powered vehicles operating with run-down cylinders pose serious threat of fatal accidents in the streets of the capital as the cylinders have not been retested even after expiry of the five-year average lifespan recommended by the experts.
Experts said that each older and untested cylinder turned into a live bomb, when gas is pushed in it with 32,000 (pneumatic test) pressures in each square inch. In the pressure of gas, the temper of cylinder gets expansion and poses risk of furious explosion. Due to lack of proper monitoring by the authorities concerned on gas cylinders in vehicles, a number of deadly explosions have been taken place in the last few years, leaving several people dead and several others injured.
According to Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited (RPGCL) official sources told over 4 lakh out of 503,864 CNG-run vehicles in the country are run on untested gas cylinders that have passed the deadline for their check-up.
The Department of Explosive and the Rupantarita Prakitik Gas Company Limited said the gas cylinders may cause fatal accidents any time if they are flawed.
According to the CNG Policy 2005, the CNG run vehicles must have their cylinders checked every five years. They should be replaced with new cylinders if any flaw is identified.
There is an instruction for submitting report on the gas cylinders installed in the vehicles but it has not been followed properly, said the communication experts while talking to Daily Industry.
An official of the Department of Explosives under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources said, generally a natural gas vehicle cylinder can be refilled around 14,000 times. Every time it goes through the refilling process the cylinder expands and after the gas runs out it shrinks again. This cycle continues during and after every refilling.
RPGCL officials said, “They were empowered only to give licence to CNG conversation centres and filling stations and to oversee whether these stations and centres were following the government guidelines.”
“We published public notice to recheck – vehicles gas cylinders and CNG Filling Station cascade [gas cylinder group] cylinders – in every five years for the sake of public interest. RPGCL is not responsible for retesting cylinders,” he told the Daily Industry.
Currently, the country has 600 CNG conversion centres of these 549 are running. Of these 324 are of Titas, 75 under Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company Limited, 57 under Jalabad Gas Transmission, 66 under Karnafuli and 27 under Western Zone Gas Company Limited and all these are using 3.2 million cubic feet gas everyday.
Specialists felt that since the country has a huge reserve of gas, using it to drive cars will save import costs. But over time, the idea has changed because now, LNG is being imported to meet the deficit of locally produced gas.
Former Petrobangla director Moqbul Elahi said, “If CNG had not been used, the pollution level of Dhaka would have risen alarmingly.”
As an alternative to CNG, auto gas from LPG can be used, but this has to be imported too, he added.
Professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and energy specialist Dr. Ejaz Hossain, says, “Cars in many countries run on electricity and after 2030, conversion engines will not be used anymore.”
Now the focus is on hybrid and electric cars which do not have any harmful impact on environment.
Regarding the role of CNG cylinder in the recent blaze in old Dhaka, state minister for energy and minerals, Nasrul Hamid says, “These are dangerous but instead of banning them the usage of CNG cylinders have to be brought under a monitoring system.”