Authorities have instructed the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited to conduct a comprehensive study on the allegation that non-metered consumers of gas pay almost double the amount paid by metered consumers for similar use.
The instruction has been given by the Energy and Mineral Resources Division at a monthly meeting to review the implementation of the Annual Development Programme of the ministry.
“If necessary, Titas can involve the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in conducting the study in a perfect manner” Senior Secretary of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division Mahbub Hossain reportedly told the meeting.
A senior official who attended the meeting informed UNB that the issue of disparity between the two categories of Titas Gas consumers was widely discussed there.
It was reported in the meeting that a pre-paid metered consumer uses 40-50 cubic meter of gas and pays around Tk 500-630 a month while a non-meter consumer has to pay almost double at Tk 975 for the same quantity of consumption.
The issue drew special attention as the Titas Gas recently moved a proposal to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to raise the gas price by 117 per cent.
As per the proposal, if it is accepted by the BERC, a single burner user will have to pay over Tk 2000 per month.
The Titas Gas managing director, who was present at the meeting, was asked to explain as to why the company’s prepaid gas meter project is being delayed.
Meeting sources said the Titas top executive failed to provide any satisfactory answer. Rather, he said installation of a pre-paid meter costs Tk 23,000 of which 14,000 is the meter’s value and the rest is data centre management cost.
In this case, currently, a consumer pays only Tk 100 per month as the rent of the meter considering 20 years for a meter’s lifetime which is not commercially profitable for Titas, he reportedly said.
Because, a meter’s actual lifetime is 10 years and after every ten year it needs recalibration which gives no guarantee for proper operation.
The Titas MD proposed to consider the pre-paid meter’s lifetime to be at 10 years and rent to be double at Tk 200 per month to recover the cost of a meter.
There are 4.3 million gas consumers across the country where a total of six distribution companies are operating.
Among them, Titas is the largest operator having 2.8 million consumers and it is responsible for the supply of natural gas to Dhaka and its adjoining districts including Mymensingh, Netrokona, Sherpur, Jamalpur, Norsingdi, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Gazipur and Narayanganj since its founding in 1964.
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 city areas, including Paltan, Ramna, New Market, Khilgaon and Segunbagicha under the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC).
But most of the consumers of Titas gas and other gas distribution companies remained unmetered and pay double the bills compared to metered consumers every month.