ISLAMABAD: Federal Ombudsman Ejaz Ahmad Qureshi has directed gas providing agencies including Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) to make a more responsive and effective mechanism to deal with people’s complaints.
He was presiding a high-level meeting to discuss the working of gas companies and their administrative arrangements to address citizens’ complaints.
The meeting was attended by the Secretary (Petroleum) retired Capt Mohammad Mahmood, chairman of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Masroor Khan, SNGPL Managing Director Ali Javed Hamdani, SSGCL Managing Director Imran Maniar, Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat Secretary Afzal Latif and senior officers from both sides.The ombudsman said that it was important that due attention and prompt administrative measures were required on the part of utility companies while the Ministry of Petroleum and Ogra had to exercise proper supervision to resolve public grievances.
In this respect, proposals developed by the Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat were discussed and vital decisions were taken for provision of prompt relief to consumers over their genuine grievances.It was agreed that focal persons in BS-20 will be designated on behalf of the federal secretary (petroleum) and the top management of SNGPL and SSGCL within one week would coordinate with Wafaqi Mohtasib advisors and remove bottlenecks, where necessary. The ombudsman also asked officials to make slabs of outstanding dues so that low income consumers may pay it in easy installments.
The Wafaqi Mohtasib made it clear that no laxity in the implementation of decisions will be tolerated and further cautioned that some state corporations were going to courts against decisions of the president of Pakistan which was a clear violation of the cabinet’s instructions on the subject. The secretary (petroleum) passed directions during the meeting to managing directors of SNGPL and SSGCL to withdraw these cases from courts within two weeks.
Low gas pressure in Taxila, Wah
Several areas in Taxila and Wah have been hit by a drastic reduction in gas supply, resulting in a sharp increase in the usage of illegal compressors. It has been observed that the use of compressors during peak hours worsens gas pressure and, consequently, consumers who do not use them experience low pressure in their areas.
Residents have held the authorities of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) responsible for the situation, claiming that they have provided connections to commercial units from the line meant for domestic consumption.
Low gas pressure has affected schoolchildren and others the most as they have to leave for their respective destinations without breakfast. The residents of various localities in Taxila and Wah have expressed concern over continued low gas pressure and called upon the authorities to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to domestic consumers.
Complaints about low gas pressure have been received from Pind Tarbela Colony, Ahatta, Pind Gondal, Ismailabad, Parri Mohallah, Mohalla Banni, Gheela Khurd, Jameelabad, Nawababad, Wah Model Town, Ahmed Nagar, Muneerabad, Asifabad, Malikabad, Chachi Mohallah, Asifabad, Pind Gondal, Haideri Town, Bilal Colony, Wahdat Colony, Mohra Shah Wali Shah and Mohallah Eidgah. Residents said that they were facing low gas pressure since the last couple of weeks.
Aksar Khan Awan, a resident of Munirabad said that the pressure of gas being supplied from 7pm till 9pm was very low. He added that in some other localities, the pressure was so low that residents could only see a tiny flame on their stoves.
“We cannot cook food on time as even preparing a cup of tea takes an hour,” said Bilqees Bibi - a resident of Ahmed Nagar.
Kiran Khan, a resident of Bilal Colony, said she was facing difficulty in cooking food, especially in the morning and evening. “We go to work without having breakfast,” said Syed Owais, a resident of the same area, adding that natural gas had vanished with the start of the winter season, leaving consumers with no other option but to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
“In this situation, we have to bring roti for lunch and dinner from markets of nearby areas where the gas pressure is normal,” he said.
Mohammad Aslam - a resident of Malikabad said that the SNGPL consumers are forced to utilise coal, LPG cylinders and wood to cook food. Attique Kashmiri - a local Jamaati-i-Islami leader said that the gas pressure had been very low since the start of the current cold spell, adding that people were forced to opt for alternative fuel like coal and wood. He added that the price of coal had also increased considerably.
When contacted, an official of SNGPL said gas pressure had dropped due to the rise in demand. “We have not reduced the supply and are doing our best to manage the load,” he said.
Teams will go door-to-door and consumers using compressors would be fined heavily whereas their gas connections would be severed and cases would be registered against them.
Published in Dawn, january 2th, 2023