– More than 50,530 NGV’s
– 129 Refueling stations
– Energy security and greenhouse gas policies playing increasing role
– NGVs are directly contributing to protect foreign reserve funds of Bangladesh
– Growth rate of CNG conversion is more than 11 percent – from 11,700 in 2002 to 50,500 in 2005
Impact on air quality:
Dhaka has a significant level of air pollution due to particulate matter. In 2001, two-stroke three-wheeler baby taxis were identified as one of the major causes of air pollution by the different agencies and it was found that major portion of Hydrocarbon, Volatile Organic compound, Carbon monoxide and Particulate Matters were emitted due to use of excessive quantities of low quality lube oil. The Ministry of Communications, Government of Bangladesh decided to ban two stroke baby taxies from 1st December 2002. A new fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) three-wheeler has introduced on January 2003. After the introduction of the CNG fleet, ambient air quality has improved in the Dhaka city.
Numbers & types of NGVs:
By March 2006, 50,530 various types of gasoline-powered vehicles were converted to CNG, – Cars/Jeeps/Microbuses/Three-Wheeler Auto Rickshaws/Taxi Cabs & Buses. The cost of conversion of per vehicle is on average US $583. Conversions diesel to CNG and gasoline to CNG are being undertaken though conversion from diesel to CNG is very expensive for the vehicle owners.
Existing & projected growth rates:
The Government licensing authority the Rupantarito Prakitik Gas Company Limited [RPGCL] has given 76 licenses for CNG conversion workshops to private owners. Another 224 application for conversion workshop are being processed. Except for a few, major conversion workshops are under equipped and mechanics are not trained according to the conditions of the licensing authority. However, due to increasing fuel prices, more than 3500 vehicles are being converting to CNG annually. The annual registrations of vehicles in Dhaka city is approximately 32,000 and the projected growth rate of CNG conversion is more than 11 percent – from 11,700 in 2002 to 50,500 in 2005.
Number & type of refueling stations:
A total of 115 CNG refueling stations are in Bangladesh. Another 14 CNG refueling station opened in June 2006.
RPGCL established one CNG refueling station in 1998 as a model at Jowarshahara, Dhaka, financed by the Asian Development Bank, This station is the property of Bangladesh Government. The rest of the CNG refueling stations belong to private owners. The Government has given priorities and encouragement to set-up more private sector refueling stations for easy refueling of natural gas vehicles (NGVs). The Govt. has provided 22 commercial plots with very easy payment installments to private owners to set-up CNG refueling stations in Dhaka including downtown. CNG conversion & refueling stations owners have formed an association, the Bangladesh CNG Filling Station and Conversion Owners Association in the first part of 2006.
The Rupantarito Prakitik Gas Company Limited [RPGCL] has a well-equipped CNG conversion workshop at Jowarshahara; which facilitates genuine kits and provides free services to the customers. The RPGCL is empowered to supervise converting workshops but due to a shortage of manpower; they are often unable to inspect or supervise at the appropriate time. Due to a lack of monitoring, some poor quality equipment, including cylinders, is imported by some workshop owners.
• Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) is needed to ensure that the emission control system on a motor vehicle is working correctly.
• New vehicles sold have to meet national emission standards, but emission profiles can only be maintained if the emission controls and engines are functioning properly.
• Through periodic checks and required repairs for vehicles that fail the test, I/M encourages proper CNG vehicle maintenance.
Vehicles that are poorly maintained or that have malfunctioning emission controls have high levels of emission in excess of standards. The percentage of dirty vehicles increases with age. Typically, 10 to 30 percent of vehicles cause the bulk of the problem.
The Government is encouraging (but not mandating) private vehicle owners to convert their vehicles into CNG for environmental benefits and to save the foreign currency. But in a policy decision, all Govt. vehicles should be converted into CNG and already half of the fleet has been converted. Within a short time, all Govt vehicles will be converted.
The Government has formed Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission with the support of USAID in 2005. The duties and responsibilities of the Commission are to supervise, monitor and make regulations on CNG safety and related issues.
Government & political support:
After the phase-out of two-stroke baby taxis from Dhaka city in 2003, the public suffered a great deal but realizing the environmental benefits, they supported the decision of the Government because they believe that natural gas is free from carcinogenic compounds and sulfur.
The Government of Bangladesh has exempted all types of duty on imported cylinders and conversion kits to reduce the cost of conversion.
Saving of Foreign Currency:
The Government is importing crude and refined fuel from Middle East, Singapore and India, using one quarter of the country’s yearly national budget. Natural gas vehicles are saving foreign currency US $53.6 million per year and NGVs are directly contributing to protect foreign reserve funds of Bangladesh.
Major issues at present:
At present, the major issue related to CNG vehicles is safety. The RPGCL and Society for Urban Environmental Protection has taken initiatives to educate the users about safety measures and about the identify of genuine kits.
Akhtar Hossain Babu
Society for Urban Environmental Protection
16/13 Modhubagh, Moghbazar, Dhaka-1217. Phone-880-2-8355764,