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Full Version: Karachi: CNG stations project still a distant dream
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By Irfan Aligi

KARACHI: The City District Government Karachi (CDGK) Enterprises and Investment Promotions (E&IP) Group of Offices have failed to establish compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations in the city even after a year and a half, Daily Times has learnt.

Interestingly, the E&IP has not only received hefty fees against the sale of request for proposals (RFPs) worth Rs 50,000 each from several stakeholders but they have also availed formal bids twice, which also remain unfulfilled.

Talking to Daily Times, sources in CDGK said that when the federal government had allocated funds worth Rs 2.5 billion for plying dedicated CNG buses in the city, the CDGK Transport and Communication Department (T&CD) had completed all the homework and the filling station project was about to be launched at five different venues on plots of land owned by the CDGK. Nonetheless, for reasons best known to the higher authorities, the entire project was shifted to E&IP for further processing.

Sources in the CDGK privy to the matter and one of the stakeholders said that the E&IP has received Rs 50,000 for one RFP, which was contrary to the law as the E&IP could not legally sell the RFP for more than Rs 3,000 in any case.

Actually, the CDGK had temporarily leased the plots of lands reserved for the establishment of dedicated CNG stations to law enforcers. The E&IP has failed to shift them on other plots of land as the law enforcers had conveyed to the E&IP that they were willing to shift to other plots of land provided the E&IP ensures necessary arrangements but the E&IP has failed to tackle the issue smoothly, claimed the stakeholder.

According to sources in the CDGK, it was mandatory that the E&IP complete the formalities within a month (30 days) after a formal receipt of the RFPs. Besides delaying the processing of the RFPs on time, the E&IP received bids twice but failed to implement the task it was legally bound to do. Thus, the stakeholders have lost time and money.

A well-placed officer in the E&IP told Daily Times that since the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had banned opening of any new high-pressure CNG filling stations across Pakistan, it was impossible for the E&IP to complete the task.

In reply to a question, the officer said that the E&IP was ignorant of the already imposed ban. The E&IP has repeatedly approached the OGRA to consider CDGK’s request for the establishment of dedicated CNG stations for CNG buses that are already running on the streets while more would be coming to the city soon but to no avail. Henceforth the E&IP has arranged for alternate measures for meeting the requirements for filling the CNG buses by increasing filling pressure of certain CNG stations in the city.

On the other hand, one of the stakeholders refuted the claims made by E&IP pertaining to the ban imposed by OGRA being the reason behind the unfinished plan. He claimed that the OGRA has told the E&IP many a times to identify locations for the establishment of dedicated CNG filling stations so that the OGRA could take necessary action to complete the task.

According to sources in CDGK, the city government has lost money in terms of revenue owing to the delay in the establishment of dedicated CNG filling stations. In this regard, the expected revenue through leasing out plots to stakeholders has caused loss of revenue around Rs 50 million, which is exclusive of Rs 300,000 in form of monthly rent and a 25 percent share from each CNG station on sale of gas, which could also be in millions.
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