SPECIAL REPORT: What CNG users, players say

TANZANIA: MOTORISTS have urged the government to increase the number of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filling stations in the country, for it to become a mass-market product.

They also insisted that CNG cars will need a dense network of filling stations to address long queues and congestion. They lamented on increasing re-filling delays resulting from an increase in number of vehicles switching to gas use.

The motorists also called on the government to deploy measures, which will help to reduce the cost of converting the vehicles from fuel to gas system to enable more people to afford the service.

Experts say switching to CNG may seem relatively inexpensive and the benefits outweigh the use of fuel. They argue that one kilogramme of gas that sells at 1, 550/- is cheaper compared to fuel (diesel/petrol) that rotates around 3200/-.

Equally, they noted that gas emits around 15–20 per cent less carbon dioxide (CO2) in comparison to diesel/petrol fuel. Tabling a report on activities undertaken by the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Mineral in 2023 in the National Assembly recently, Chairman Dr Mathayo David said that the number of vehicles using CNG has increased from 1,139 in 2020/2021 to 3,000 vehicles in 2022/2023.

He said the situation is due to the fact that CNG is cheaper by 40 per cent compared to fuel especially in Dar es Salaam, Coast and Mtwara regions.

“The increase in number of vehicles using CNG has caused long queues at the five gas filling stations available in the country thus forcing motorists to spend long time at the stations,” Dr David said.

A CNG fuelling station consists of a compressor, a gas dryer, storage vessels, dispensers and underground piping. Usually, CNG stations are installed where there is already a natural gas pipe in the ground. There are two main types of CNG refuelling systems: fast-fill and time-fill.

The Dar es Salaam City, which is a country’s business hub currently, has only three fully operating CNG stations, located at Ubungo, Temeke and Ilala albeit the increase in number of citizens who convert their vehicles from fuel powered to gas. In that regard, motorists interviewed by the ‘Daily News’ recently, requested for addition of more stations to save time and attract more motorists to switch into the system.

“The government must act now to facilitate this potential growth, especially in the number of natural gas filling stations,” said taxi driver, Mr Sadat Hamissi (35). Mr Hamissi lamented that he has been incurring losses in his business due to the refilling delays as he is forced to stay for long hours in queues.

“Sometime, I spend almost six hours when there is long queue. Addition of more gas stations will address the problem especially to us, who operate commercial taxi and other citizens as we catch with transition to alternative energy use,” he said.

Mr Hamissi called upon the government to attract more investors in the energy sector, who will support its effort on building the country’s economy and full commercialisation of the available natural gas.

Highlighting the benefits of using gases, he said it provides relief to them by covering many kilometres without the need for re-filling. He said it is six months so far since he opted to convert his combustion engine from petrol powered to gas.

Another taxi driver who denied mentioning his name said it is now the right time for every pump station to have gas station, saying the move will enhance a competitive market in the energy sector.

He said spending more time for re-filling has been causing psychological torture apart from having minimal production time in a day.

Equally, Mr Hashim Sadala (37) urged potential investors to tap the emerging new gas market. He said increase in number of gas stations will make the city’s taxi business more vibrant and uplift country’s economic growth.

Resident of Dar es Salaam, Mr Mzee Mahyenga (71) who had also converted his car to CNG, noted that he used about 3m/- to switch his petrol-powered vehicle to gas but regrets the time he spends to re-fill.

For her part, Director of the Anric Gas Technology Company Limited, Engineer Mercy Chilumba said that their company has noticed an increase in the number of vehicles, from refilling 20 vehicles per month to 100 cars. “Every day we experience an increase of three new customers,” Eng Chilumba said.

Eng Chilumba said the rise in number of CNG powered vehicles is due to increase of car engine converting from either petrol or diesel to gas.

“The big challenge is scarcity of CNG filling stations, the increase in number of gas-powered vehicles should go hand in hand with addition in number of filling stations,” Eng Chilumba said.

She said the Anric Gas Technology Company Limited also has been planning for expansion to serve more vehicles. Underlining the benefits of CNG, she said the natural gas almost cuts 55 per cent of running cost of a vehicle when it comes to re-filling.

Explaining the government’s stance toward embracing and fostering CNG, the Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority’s (EWURA) Communication and Public Relation Manager, Mr Titus Kaguo said EWURA in collaboration with the Tanzania Petroleum Services (TPS) and other stakeholders have reformed the Petroleum Facility Standard (PFC) to allow all filling stations across the country to encompass CNG.

“From now any person can have a CNG and petroleum stations all together, provided he or she meets environment impact assessment and land requirements. It is all about compliance,” Mr Kaguo told the ‘Daily News’ in an exclusive interview recently.

Likewise, he appealed to all investors in the country to catch opportunities emerging in the gas value chain through among others constructing the CNG filling stations.

Mr Kaguo said the policy and legal reform will address the shortage of CNG filling stations as countrywide there is over 2,500 filling stations which upon establishing the gas refilling facilities could serve all CNG powered vehicles.

He said as of now the country has 4,500 CNG powered vehicles mainly concentrated in Dar es Salaam but with capacity of refilling 2,500 vehicles per day.

In that regard, he said the conversion rate is high as on November last year (2023) there were 3,000 CNG vehicles in the country. Mr Kaguo said the country has five operating CNG stations of which, two are owned by the Africa business and industrialist tycoon, Mr Aliko Dangote which refill only the Dangote Group’s trucks.

They are located in Mtwara and Dar es Salaam. He said the remaining three are all situated in Dar es Salaam including the Anric Gas Technology Limited, PanAfrican Energy Tanzania Limited and Taqa Arabia Limited.

Related Articles

Back to top button