Installation of one lakh prepaid gas meters has started in Chattogram, after bringing some 60,000 customers under prepaid meters in the first phase. Such initiative would substantially prevent gas wastage.
Karnaphuli Gas Company Limited (KGDCL) has signed an agreement with Japan's Toyokeiki Company to install one lakh new pre-paid meters aimed at reducing gas wastage and system loss of residential customers in Chattogram.
Around 60 thousand pre-paid meters were installed in Chattogram city between 2017-2019 with the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the agreement executed with the Japanese government to prevent wastage of gas used at household level in Chattogram city and upazila and to ensure effective use of gas.
Affordable gas bills after installation of meters and quality durable meters have created a lot of interest among consumers. In continuation of this, KGDCL has taken initiative to install 1 lakh more pre-paid meters through the 2nd project with its own funding. The second project will be implemented by June 2025 at a cost of around Tk 291 crore.
A contract was signed on Tuesday afternoon with the contractor firm Toyokeiki Co. Ltd (local representative Onoda Inc) selected through an open international tender for the installation of the meters. At that time, Toyokeiki and Karnaphuli Gas Company's senior officials were present.
Through the ongoing project Chattogram's Bayezid, Chandgaon, Panchlaish, Chawkbazar, Pahartali, Khulshi, Bakolia, Sadarghat, Kotwali, Halishahar, Doublemooring, Port ares, EPZ, Patenga, Akbarshah, Laldighi, Karnaphuli, Hathazari, Patiya, Boalkhali, Chandanish, Anowara, Sitakund, Mirsharai to 1 lakh pre-paid meters will be installed in this area. Already about 88 thousand customers have applied for receiving meters.
KGDCL Managing Director Rafiqul Islam said, “These pre-paid meters are produced in the contractor's own factory from Japan. We have entrusted Japanese company with sorting out the information. In case of previous 60 thousand meter scheme, customers were required to go to KGDCL designated location (bank) for meter recharge. Under the current project, along with the recharge system, the card recharge system will be kept through the customer's own mobile phone. As a result, the customer can recharge the card at home and the meter can be recharged on off days or at any time of the day. KGDCL is in the process of taking up another project to install more meters against the remaining 4.35 lakh residential stoves.
Islams also said, “Gas is a valuable resource. So the government has taken this scheme to save fuel. Our natural gas is also limited, while industry has grown tremendously. That's why the government has to import LNG. But now the price of LNG has increased because of the war in Ukraine-Russia. Everyone needs to be fuel efficient now. In future all KGDCL customers will come under pre-paid meter.”
He further explained that the pre-paid meters they have installed have resulted in significant gas savings and reduced customer costs. Due to non-metering, there was a lot of gas wastage, the present pre-paid meter will reduce the gas wastage. Japanese meters work very well. The company checked every line, illegal connections are also being disconnected. It is also working on gas leakage, for which 17 teams are continuing to work at the field level. Another 4 lakh 35 thousand meters will be implemented in the future.
Toyokeiki Company's official Kiyotaka Miyahara said, “We have successfully completed the pre-paid meter work in the first phase. Work on the second phase is underway. But this project could have been completed long ago. But the work has been delayed due to various complications. KGDCL authorities were always in touch with us. It will provide many benefits to the customers compared to the previous meters.
KGDCL Deputy General Manager Engineer Md. Nahid Alam said, “Our 1 lakh 47 thousand residential customers use some 6 lakh gas stoves. The cost from the gas regulator to the line will be paid by Karnaphuli Gas Authority. This time, customers can recharge the necessary gas money in the meter just like recharging money on mobile phones.”
He explained, “Those who want to get a new meter can apply online. Using this meter will reduce the customer's cost in this new system. In fact, customers will save 200 to 250 taka per stove. However, every month along with the bill, a fee of 100 taka has to be paid to the government. Consumers will also reduce the perception of running extra gas in the winter.”
The self-funded project undertaken in 2015 will be completed by June 2025. KGDCL authorities have taken up another new project to install prepaid meters due to the reduction of customer suffering along with gas savings through this project. The main objective of the company's self-financing scheme is to prevent wastage of natural gas, ensure cost-effective use and reduce gas consumption.
However, the work of this project is delayed due to various complications. Already 87 thousand customers have applied to come under prepaid meter. More applications will be received. Total 1 lakh customers will get prepaid meter connection under this project. After this agreement, pre-paid meter connections will be provided to the customers.
Customers of non-prepaid meters use an average of 66 cubic meters of gas per month. But connected prepaid meter customers are using on an average of 40 cubic meters of gas. This saves 26 cubic meters of gas per month per meter.