It seems there are so many problems with the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited that it is hard to identify which one to solve first. It is the same with the other government service providers. Corruption, irregularity and mismanagement are everywhere. These problems often become dangerous as the consequences of any accidents occurring from its gas lines are fatal.
A recent explosion at Baitus Salat Jam-e-Masjid in Paschim Talla, Narayanganj killed 28 people who had gone there to offer prayers. Preliminary investigation revealed that the explosion took place due to gas leaking from a gas line nearby. There have been many fatal accidents from gas lines over the last one year at many places including Dhaka, and Chattogram, but unfortunately, the Titas Gas authorities did not take any effective and workable measures to address this.
Following the Narayanganj incident, Titas temporarily suspended eight including four officials for negligence in the Narayanganj incident. Along with the technical glitches of the gas line, there were corruption on part of Titas officials and employees. The locals complained that gas has been leaking from the hole for over a month. Gas bubbles were seen after rain. After the mosque committee informed Titas’s Fatulla office, concerned persons demanded Tk 50,000 bribes for the repairs. Repairs were stalled as the mosque committee did not pay the bribe. What is the explanation of such role by Titas? The mosque committee had also some responsibility as they did not file a written complaint after that.
The theft and corruption by the power, gas and water suppliers are not secret. The clients do not receive services despite following the rules or paying the service charges properly. In order to receive service, one has to bribe the employees of the service providers. Although the corrupt officials of such institutions make a fortune by this, the state and the people ultimately sustain losses.
After the mosque explosion, Titas Gas authorities launched raids at various places. Earlier, it was seen that raids and repairs take place for some time after any accident anywhere. Illegal gas connections are disconnected. Then everything returns to normal. Experts warn that the Titas gas lines are so risky that they are like time bombs. More dreadful accidents can happen at any moment. They blamed old lines, lack of maintenance and illegal gas connections for the gas line accident.
Bangladesh started the production and distribution of natural gas by pipelines at the Chhatak cement factory in 1960. Gas supply to homes began in 1967. Of the 24,287 kms of gas lines in the country, 70 per cent are faulty and risky. Clients are being hostage to the whims and arbitrariness of those in charge of gas line maintenance. The Titas Gas officials and employees are more interested in the illegal gas connections rather than line repairs.
No isolated and scattered steps will be effective to get rid of the gas line time bomb situation. Titas must take a master plan to address this and repair the old, defected gas lines to avoid further accidents. Along with technical advancement, it is essential to ensure the responsibility and accountability of all concerned with Titas Gas. According to the company, a plan of action has been submitted to the ministry. The plan will be sent to ECNEC for final decision following ministry approval. In fact, it is necessary to implement the plan of action and secure the gas lines 100 per cent.