ISLAMABAD, June 26: Owners of vehicles and proprietors of CNG filling stations are caught up in a conflict raging between the department of explosives, an organisation working under the ministry of industries, and the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP) of the ministry of petroleum over the issue of inspection of CNG and LPG cylinders, tanks and other storage devices of petroleum products.
The process of inspection involves commissions and bribes to the tune of millions of rupees. The two departments also want to recover the fees. The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has authorised the HDIP as a third party contractor for carrying out inspections and collection of fees.
However, the department of explosives announced on Tuesday that the HDIP was not authorised to conduct such inspections.
The conflict between the two departments has put public transport commuters in double jeopardy. Firstly, they are being charged exorbitant fares. Secondly, they are travelling in vehicles that could be termed ‘mobile bombs’ because no system has been devised to check the quality standards of CNG cylinders and fittings in vehicles.
On the other side, the fighting between two regulators was causing financial loss to the CNG stations.
The department of explosives claimed it was the only authorised body to check CNG and LPG cylinders, tanks and other storage devices of petroleum products and this role could not be performed by any other authority, including Ogra.
In December last year, the government had banned all CNG-fitted commercial vehicles after incidents of some explosions in CNG-fitted vehicles.
After that the government had made it mandatory for CNG cylinder users to get their fittings checked. However, even after months none of the decisions made to improve quality standards in the CNG sector are been implemented.
Apart from the confusion being created among CNG vehicle and station owners about the authorities that would certify the quality standards, CNG stations are not only paying double fee but also faced punitive actions from Ogra or the department of explosives if they fail to fulfil any of their demands.
The department of explosives said the HDIP had applied for registration as the third party inspector under the Mineral and Industrial Gases Safety Rules (MIGS) of 2010, but its application was not approved by the department of explosives because it could not fulfil requirements for a third party inspector as stipulated in the MIGS.
“The HDIP is a testing laboratory which does not have expert inspectors for the inspection of such storages devices,” the DoE said, adding, any such inspections by it would be considered as illegal.
According to Ghiyas Paracha, chairman of All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA), Ogra charged Rs50,000 for checking safety standards and the department of explosives charged Rs40,000 per visit for the same purpose.
He said: “If we fail to comply with any of the authorities, Ogra disconnects gas supply while the department of explosives complains to DC or DCO to cancel our operating licence.”
“After six months we are still not aware as who will certify the standards of CNG fittings and cylinder in our vehicles,” said Haji Nawab, chairman of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Public Transporters Welfare Association.
He said that even the interior ministry wanted to be stakeholder in the CNG sector and law-enforcement agencies demand bribes while checking certificates.