Prepaid gas meters featuring earthquake-resistance technology and touch sensors will be supplied to 200,000 household consumers in Dhaka city from February.
Following a successful pilot, the state-owned Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL) will begin commissioning the meters to prevent the misuse of gas and irregularities in billing.
The project is being implemented with funding from the Bangladesh government and Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), in addition to TGTDCL.
“We will install around 200,000 prepaid gas meters with new technologies in the capital city at an estimated cost of Tk712 crore,” Project Director Engr Md Foyzer Rahman of the state-run gas company said.
As of October, around 7,500 meters with 20-year lifetimes had already been installed across the capital, with another 16,500 due for installation before February. TGTDCL will continue fitting the prepaid gas meters every month while the meters already in place undergo commissioning.
The project started on January 1, 2015 and is expected to end by next year - although this may be extended to 2019 depending on its progress.
The new meters are waterproof and dust-resistant and will curb wastage of natural gas.
“With the installation of hi-tech meters imported from Japan, consumers will enjoy improved customer service and uninterrupted gas supply with a reduction of gas leakage,” the TGTDCL official said.
“(And) if there is no system loss, consumers will have to pay less.”
According to a TGTDCL survey, a typical householder using a double-burner stove consumes 87.5 cubic metres of natural gas on average every month at a cost of around Tk796, based on the current per unit rate of gas of Tk9.10.
The installation of the new prepaid meters will save an average 33 cubic metres of gas for every double burner, saving a consumer about Tk300, according to the survey.
Titas Gas Company and Japan-based Toyokeiki Company Ltd inked a Tk387 crore engineering, procurement and construction deal on March 16, 2017 for the prepaid meter installation.
Of the total project cost, the government will contribute Tk237 crore, JICA will pay Tk453 crore, and TGTDCL will provide funds of Tk 22.2 crore.
Some 170,000 prepaid meters will be installed in Madhya Badda, Gulshan, Banani, Baridara, Tejgaon, Cantonment, Mirpur, Azampur, Kafrul, Khhilket, Uttarkhan, and Uttara, with the remaining 30,000 earmarked for Uttara Third Phase, Bashundhara and Dakkhinkhan.
“We have been conducting a consumer survey in the selected areas before starting the prepaid meter installation work,” said TGTDCL Acting Managing Director Engr Mir Moshiur Rahman.
Project Director Foyzer Rahman said that in order to facilitate advance receipt of gas bills, reduce monitoring cost and improve management efficiency, a Tk28 crore agreement was signed on May 7, 2015 between TGTDCL and UK-based engineering consultant Pegasus International Ltd.
The project, if implemented, will result in efficient utilisation of natural gas by creating awareness among the domestic users.
User manual and recharging prepaid cards
Consumers will be able to pay gas bills using prepaid, rechargeable cards which will be made available through agents.
Several recharge centres will be set up to recharge the cards for paying the bills, while a data centre will be set up in Titas Gas Bhaban at Karwan Bazar in the capital.
All support services will be available at the data centre, which is expected to be constructed by February.
The project director said the consumers will still have to pay rent for using the meters even though the user manual is yet to be drafted.
“The rent for the meters has also not been fixed as yet but the consumers will get a smart pre-paid card to pay their gas bills,” he said.
The gas meter installations has its roots in an earlier pilot project titled “Supply Efficiency Improvement Project of TGTDCL” which was funded by the government and Asian Development Bank.
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.
“Now, I am paying maximum Tk400 instead of fixed rate of Tk800 for a two-burner stove while I have to pay as per use,” said Mohammad Karim, a Dhanmondi resident.
Titas supplies gas to Dhaka, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Narasingdi,Manikganj, Gazipur, Tangail, Mymensingh, Netrakona, Sherpur, Jamalpur and Kishoreganj.
Out of its 2 million consumers, around 1.98 million are household users. However, these use only 30% of the total gas sales generated by TGTDCL.