Public transport operators seem to be in trouble as the traffic police and provincial transport department are holding all users of unauthorised Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) kits by their necks in view of public safety.
The traffic police are issuing the drivers of the minibuses and coaches a fine of Rs2,000 over the CNG kits, asking them to test and verify their cylinders from the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP), said a transporter whose driver was fined at Quaidabad, Landhi, by the traffic police and officials of the provincial transport department.
“We installed brand new CNG kits in our vehicles in 2011 and the cylinders were tested after completing five years,” he said requesting anonymity. “We still have enough time to test our cylinders through HDIP, according to the regulations set by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).”
Furthermore, he accused the HDIP officials of pushing the transport department and the traffic police for the tests so that the former could make money. “They charge a fee to test and that is why they are pushing the police to force us to get the test done before the five years are up,” he said. He added that over 60 vehicles have been fined by the police in a week. Moreover, he criticised the union council representatives for not taking up the issue with the transport and traffic police chief secretary.
The general secretary of Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI), Syed Mehmood Afridi, told The Express Tribune that they have raised the issue with the relevant authorities many times. “We were assured that our drivers will not be bothered for CNG kits if they were installed through authorised dealers and were government-approved, original cylinders,” he said, adding that they will raise the issue again because no one gave them any information of the tests at the time of the installation.
Traffic DIG Arif Hanif explained to The Express Tribune that they are not bothering those drivers whose vehicles have standardised and government-approved CNG kits installed from authorised conversion workshops. “We have no other way to stop CNG-cylinder blasts that occur because of substandard kits,” he said. “This is very serious. We have informed and warned them from time to time through our media campaign and roadside awareness camps. We cannot let anyone play with innocent lives.”
According to the provincial transport secretary, Taha Faruqui, Ogra has authorised around 16 companies whose CNG cylinders can be used in Pakistan. “Most of the public transport owners have installed CNG cylinders from unauthorised conversion centres and road-side mechanics, which is not acceptable and they will be fined,” he said, adding that the CNG cylinders need to be tested from time to time. Faruqui said that if anyone has any complaints, they can contact him and their complaints will be redressed.
HDIP officials also refuted the accusations levelled against them, saying that they test cylinders for those who approach them for testing. “We charge a fee of Rs715 to test the cylinders fitted in vehicles and that’s all,” said the HDIP general manager, Habibur Rehman.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2014.
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