ISLAMABAD - The revitalised CNG stations across Punjab are not seeing a large number of customers around this time as majority of cautious public transporters are avoiding use of CNG in their vehicles apparently due to its low quality and high price.

One of the major consumers of the CNG, public transport vehicles, this time is suspicious about the quality and showing resentment to the new price of CNG. “We have waited for long to enjoy the cheap and clean fuel (CNG) but alas there is nothing old in the new RLNG based CNG” a driver of a public transport vehicles told The Nation here Friday. However the CNG association denied the charges baseless saying public transport not using CNG is involved in the use of illegal Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), government needs to take strict action against the vehicles owners.

The restoration of gas supply to CNG station in Punjab is made possible through the imported Re-gasified LNG (RLNG). According to new policy RLNG will be provided to those CNG stations that furnish additional deposits of Rs 1.2 million. So far only 750 stations out of the total 2400 stations located in Punjab region were reopened.

The RLNG price to CNG stations is $12.8 per Million British Thermal Units (MMBTU), which CNG stations are selling to the end consumers at 59.8 per liter. The local gas was being provided to CNG industry at $10 per MMBTU, which CNG stations were selling to the consumers at Rs 76 per kg. Now after the introduction of the new policy, in Punjab the commodity is being provided in liters at same price which means per kg gas is costing around Rs 88. Under the new price formula, a medium CNG cylinder which used to cost Rs 600 earlier now costs Rs 750, showing an increase of 25 percent in the price.

Earlier the CNG was economical vis a vis petrol but now it is the same or even a little bit expensive and inefficient, as the government has increased the price of the commodity, the drivers of various public transport vehicles and taxi cabs, commuting in the twin cities of Islamabad Rawalpindi, told this scribe.

The public transport vehicles interviewed were Route number 1, 24,105,111,120, 127A, and 136 which is commuting in Islamabad and between the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It was disclosed during the interview with these transporters that almost 99 percent public transport were not using CNG. Beside the big public transport vehicles the small taxi cab was also interviewed for the purpose, and the answer was not different.

A driver, Muhammad Ashraf, of the van on route number one, which commutes from Secretariat in Islamabad to Saddr Rawalpindi, said, this, is not my personal vehicle I took this on lease and I am not saving money as I am running on petrol.

When asked the reason for not using CNG instead of petrol to save some money, he replied that not using CNG is under compulsion as it is substandard and effect the efficiency of my engine. Beside its quality, he said, it also uneconomical and does not help any saving.

Similarly a driver, Khalid Khattak, of another van for route 127A, which travels from Chongi 26 to Bharkhu said that the new price of CNG doesn’t suit us as it is expensive and that’s why we are not using it. With the petrol of Rs 2000 I can travel three times from Chongi 26 to Bharkhu, while the CNG of the same amount pushes my van only for two times or may be a little bit more, he added.

Yaseen another driver who drive van on route 136, which commutes from Secretariat Islamabad to Bahria Town Rawalpindi, said that I did not fuel my vehicles with the CNG after the reopening of the gas stations as it is expensive and co drivers told me that its quality is not good either.

A taxi driver Naeem Jan with his, 650cc, small cab said, earlier I was using CNG to save some money but with the new price it does not make any difference in pricing. My car consumption is too low, for me petrol and CNG is the same, he added.

When contacted the CNG association president, Ghyas Paracha, said that this is baseless to say that the new CNG is substandard adding that it is just an assumption and nothing else. It is also not true to say that it is expensive; he said adding that instead it is 30 percent cheaper than petrol.

He said that CNG is doing well and saving 2600 tone of petrol per day in Punjab only which is the manifestation of the fact that the public response is overwhelming.

However he said quality or price has nothing to do with the public transporter not using CNG, there are other reasons behind this attitude. He said first some of those non-users of CNG are involved in the use of illegal Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), they have installed LPG cylinder in their vehicles, which is though easily available but are dangerous for public transport. He asked the government to take strict action against the vehicles owners who according to him was playing with the lives of people.

The second reason is their availability as majority of the public transporters are unsure of the continued supply of the CNG, Paracha said and added that as soon their confidence restore they will again switch over to CNG.

The country has a total 3,495 CNG stations of which 2,400 were in Punjab but after intensification of gas crisis Gas supply to CNG stations of Punjab was suspended in November 2014 but now partially reopened under new rules. In Sindh during winter CNG stations remains close for three days in a week while there is no load shedding for summer. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan there is no gas load-shedding for the CNG sector.