The government has taken an initiative to install electricity and gas prepaid meters to cut wastage, prevent corruption and facilitate hassle-free monthly bill payment for clients. To this end, electricity distribution companies want to install at least 3 crore meters by 2021. However, gas distribution companies have not been able to match the pace, an official said.
The government started to install smart (online) gas and electricity prepaid meter system from 2011. After installation of prepaid meters, clients are getting more benefits and also the government is getting actual revenue. Besides, corruption is being removed gradually. Energy Secretary Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Muneem had said recently “According to our client’s number, at least 50 lakh meters were needed to install. However, we have only been able to install nearly 3 lakh meters in the past 14 years. It’s our failure.”
The official said, there are 3 crore 45 lakh electricity users in the country. Most of the users are under Rural Electrification Board (REB).The REB has taken an initiative to install 2 crore smart prepaid meters by 2025. Up to June, around 4 lakh prepaid meters were installed. 7.5 lakh more new clients will be included by the end of the current fiscal year, an official said.
Apart from BREB's smart prepaid meter installation project, 10 million more smart prepaid meters will also be installed by DPDC, PDB, DESCO, Ozopadico and Nesco as part of the government's vision to ensure supply of cent percent electricity to all the households. Md. Saifuzzaman, Superintending Engineer of West Zone Power Distribution Company Limited told Bangladesh Post ‘We have around 11 lakh 60 thousand users. Our target is to install 5 lakh pre-paid meters by 2020. Already more than one lakh pre-paid meters have been installed. Rest of the meters will be installed by next year.
“We have a plan to install 9 lakh more pre-paid meters under the project of phase-2, which will start from July, 2020 and end in June, 2022. Gradually, all users will come under prepaid meter system,’he added. The Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company installed 85 thousand prepaid meters for household consumers till June this year while another 60 thousand meters were installed by the Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company.
On the other hand, E-VC meter installation works for industrial, captive and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) consumers were also underway.Titas prepaid gas meter project, launched in January 2015 and scheduled to end by December 2018, aimed to install 200,000 prepaid gas meters in an around Dhaka city. However, only 74,284 prepaid meters were installed by 2018. Later it has extended the deadline for implementation of project to 2020.
Project Director of Titas gas prepaid meter, Md Faizar Rahman told Bangladesh Post, up to July, around 1,51,500 meters were installed. Of these 85,000 meters are now being operated. It is expected that the rest of meters will be in operation by February, 2020.Informing that the company targets to install two lakh prepaid meters by next year, the PD said, Titas is planning to install 1, 20,000 additional prepaid meters, making the total number of prepaid meters 3,20,000 to be installed. Currently, we are in discussion with JICA about the mater.
Titas officials are deliberately dillydallying the project implementation as introduction of pre-paid gas billing service would stop the illegal profit they are making through postpaid services. As a result Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited is collecting around Tk 3,000-4,000 crore extra money annually from users of postpaid meter, alleged experts and concerned people.
Smart prepaid/ payment power billing system is the same as the mobile recharging system. The clients could use power upon financial ability by using smart prepayment meters. Besides, they could see their respective ongoing power load and reading. They will get emergency credit if their pre-paid money is exhausted.