Saturday, July 13, 2024

CNG time bomb ticks

Passengers of CNG-run public transports are running the risk of cylinder explosion as several thousand such vehicles are in service across the country with CNG cylinders beyond their usability limit.
Officials concerned told New Age that the cylinders installed in the vehicles in mid-80s in the country were still in service beyond their lifespan although they should undergo fitness test every five years. The vehicles with cylinders installed later, are also running on the roads without fitness test.
Zakir Hossain, general secretary of Bangladesh CNG filling station and conversion workshop owners association, told New Age that several thousand CNG-driven vehicles were in service with eight to 10 years old cylinders that had not undergone fitness test. ‘Generally, a CNG cylinder lasts 15 years and law stipulates that they should be checked after five years in operation,’ he added.
He said that owners of CNG-driven vehicles, particularly the ones used in public transport, were ignorant about the risk involved if their cylinders did not undergo fitness test every five years. ‘They seem little interested in having their cylinders checked or replaced,’ he said.
MA Rashid Sarkar, professor of mechanical engineering department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, told New Age accidents caused by CNG cylinder explosion took place quite often and the number of such accidents was increasing every day. In most of the cases, old cylinders have been found to be the reason, he added.
He said that a CNG cylinder explosion could cause a terrible destruction blowing up the vehicle and also damaging others nearby which could take a heavy toll of lives.
Admitting the gravity of the situation, experts, officials and agencies concerned called for putting in place an effective mechanism to enforce the rules so that the CNG cylinders undergo fitness test every five years and the spent ones were replaced.
Zakir told New Age that the number of workshops which carry out fitness test of CNG cylinders was very few which could hardly cope with an increasing number of CNG-run vehicles.
‘There is no enforcement of law or monitoring on the ground to check fitness of the CNG cylinders and replace the old ones,’ he said.
Khairul Bashar, director general of explosives department, told New Age that owners of the CNG-driven vehicles were supposed to have their cylinders checked at an authorised workshop and it was the responsibility of the refueling stations to check the fitness certificate of the cylinders before refueling.
‘The explosives department has permitted eight to nine workshops across the country to do the job,’ he added.
Employees of several CNG refueling stations, however, expressed ignorance about their duty to check whether the cylinders of the vehicles have fitness stickers on them when they come to the station for refueling. The explosives department, however, has no initiatives to monitor it.
In reply to a question, Bashar told New Age that they had no vigilance teams to monitor whether or not the CNG stations and other agencies concerned were carrying out their duties.
He attributed the reason to lack of logistics and manpower.
Zakir told New Age that there were about two lakh CNG-driven vehicles in the country and 60,000 to 70,000 of them were used as public transports. A large number of CNG-run public transports like three wheelers, human howlers and buses were plying the roads without legal documents, he said.
Osman Ali, general secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Federation, told New Age that the associations concerned had called for modification of the BRTA ordinance.
Zakir told New Age that a large number of CNG-run vehicles appeared in the streets in 2002-03 when the government banned two-stroke three wheelers and allowed private entrepreneurs to invest in CNG conversion business.
Now, there are 130 CNG conversion workshops in the country and about a hundred CNG-run vehicles are being prepared every day to hit the road, he said.


Courtesy of New Age

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