Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited is yet to install a single prepaid gas meter in Chattogram, although the project aiming at providing the pay-as-you-go utility service to one lakh residential customers will expire in June next year.
To prevent wastage and ensure a cost-effective use of natural gas, the company took up the project in February 2021 but has not been able to appoint a contractor so far.
Officials said the appointment of the consultancy firm had mainly caused the implementation delay of the project involving around Tk241 crore.
"If all goes well, meter installation may begin in early 2023. The project will not be completed within the stipulated time. The deadline might be extended," requesting anonymity, a top official of state-owned Petrobangla – the supervisory organisation of Karnaphuli – told The Business Standard.
However, Karnaphuli Managing Director MA Majed is optimistic about the completion of the project within the June 2023 deadline.
There is a fixed prepaid smart card for every individual meter. Customers can recharge the cards from designated vending points.
Once the consumption reaches the recharge units, the gas supply is turned off automatically. An LCD display on the meter shows the consumption related information.
The Chattogram smart gas meter project was officially commissioned in May 2021. Soon after, the process of the appointment of a consultant began. As the first tender failed to select a consultant meeting all criteria, a fresh tender was floated in October that year.
In May this year, Karnaphuli finalised the consultancy deal with a private firm named DTCL. The firm will be coordinating the meter recharge system, software management and other IT services, and provide technical assistance to meter installation.
Karnaphuli Gas floated the contract tender on 14 August this year – one and a half years after undertaking the project.
The Petrobangla official said prospective contractors have already requested them to extend the 28 September tender submission deadline, and a decision in this regard may go in favour of the contractors.
However, Karnaphuli Managing Director MA Majed said, "Hopefully, the project will be completed within the stipulated time. We are working to attain the target."
Karnaphuli has around 6 lakh residential customers. The distribution company installed prepaid gas meters at 60,000 households under a 2015-2019 Japanese funded project.