Friday, December 9, 2011

CNG Cylinders or Live Bombs?

Following few of the news items, I was really scared about increased frequency of CNG cylinder blasts resulting into tragic loss of precious lives.  OGRA has recently blacklisted 18 firms from providing CNG cylinders. But is this the only reason for these sad happenings?
If one had followed the pattern, almost all CNG accidents are related to commercial transport. Hazards can be identified as under:
 Exposed cylinder as in small loader vehicles, the cylinder is placed on a frame ontop of driver's cabin; the cylinder and pipes are fully exposed to weather and prone to physical damage even in case of minor accidents.
Cylinders under the passenger seats; passengers are likely to un-intentionally fiddle with the delicate high pressure gas pipe fitting as it is directly under them. Internal leakage and ciggerte is sure recipe for big disaster.
Greed; transporters would happily buy sub-strandered, expired and damaged cylinders to save the bucks.
More gas more pressure; to gain extra milage, transported would fit multiple cylenders in most wierd and dangerous way. more so they would join hands with CNG station owners to fill the gas at higher pressure (more than 200 bars).
 Lets enumerate various contributory  factors:
Increased prices of Deisel forced commercial commuters to convert to CNG. but the benefit is not transferred to public. Rents remained the same as transporters say that they had to cover the cost of conversion. Secondly, public was left in agony due to absence of local transport on CNG-OFF days, once their day is ON.
Transporters never comply to any regulations regarding safety and fitness of their vehicles. Our nation has seen the transporter is always the winner as he is decision maker (most of the transport sector is owned by politicians, who would save their interests even at the cost of major government institutions like Pakistan Railway ) and executive (Taxis and local transport is mostly owned/patronized by Police authorities)
 Conversion of  Industry, power sector, and transport to CNG - is it a good decision?
Converting to alternate means is done either to reduce the cost or cover the shortage. In case of CNG, it was due to high price of petroleum products. Converting into CNG was immediate and clear saving, but if the alternate is reasonably cheaper then the result will be total conversion to alternative, irrespective of any regulatory authority. And if the alternate is not sufficient enough to fulfill the demand then its shortage would increase its cost at parity with the main source; bringing users back to square one. That has just happened with us in the CNG sector. The 'bonus loss' was heavy investment in terms of CNG station, selling of CNG licences and cost of CNG kits; not to mention safety hazards due to crippled and dis-functional regulatory authorities.
An other interesting [alarming] development in this regard is that the CNG associations want to put a ban on CNG in private cars thereby promoting CNG only vehicles in commercial sector.
So what should be done:
1. Potent regulatory authority, enforcing safety of fitting and regular inspections.
2- Sufficient number of Labs to test gas cylinders.
3- Civic sense; if it could make some difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment