Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) will this financial year construct five natural gas stations in Dar es Salaam to serve the Dar Rapid Transit (DART) buses, a plan that is expected to cut fuel cost by 45 per cent and reduce fares.
The Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations will include two CNG mother stations and three CNG daughter stations.
DART currently serves approximately 200,000 passengers per day, and the number is expected to increase to 2 million upon completion of the six- lane road.
TPDC Managing Director, Dr. James Mataragio noted that some stations will also be accessed by private vehicles.
This was revealed on Wednesday during the launch of a project to connect natural gas to Chang'ombe and Sinza households in Dar es Salaam.
He said that feasibility study of the areas has been completed and talks regarding land acquisition for the construction of the facilities are expected to be completed in the next three weeks.
He noted that one station will be built at Dungo area owned by DART which will have capacity of serving 300 buses per day, while the second one will be constructed along Sam Nujoma Road near Mawasialiano Building with a capacity of serving 300 vehicles.
Mr Mataragio said that other small stations will be built at Ferry Fish Market, Muhimbili National Hospital, as well as Galagaza-Kibaha, an industrial zone specifically for Kairuki Factory which will also be used to supply gas to other industries based on customer's demand.
He added that Muhimbili and Central Ferry Fish Market will have a capacity of serving 200 vehicles each per day.
He said that in order to encourage more use of natural gas in vehicles, the corporation has opened doors to private investors to invest in the sector, noting that currently six companies had already been authorised to carry out the business.
Dar Rapid Transit Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Ronald Lwakatare said based on the negotiations between DART and TPDC, the project will initially save 45 per cent of fuel cost upon completion of four roads.
"This project will also help to lower our fares and relieve the company from high fuel cost. Currently our buses serve 200,000 passengers per day, but we expect the number to increase to 500,000. Upon completion of the six lanes our buses will have a capacity of carrying up to 2 million people," he said.
On connecting natural gas to households, Dr Mataragio said the project will involve 506 customers, where 170 customers are in Sinza and 336 in Police Barracks-Mgulani
He said the equipment have the capacity of serving up to 850 customers, and the number will continue to increase.
In addition, the MD noted that the first assignment of the contractor is to inspect and design the entire infrastructure that will be built, as well as import project materials, especially those expected from abroad so that they can arrive early.
He said the project is expected to cost 2bn/- and is estimated to be completed within 12 months because some of the equipment are not available in the country.
"The project will cost approximately 2bn/-, and is estimated to be completed within 12 months but could also be less than that, it can be either eight or six months," he said, adding that a lot of time will be spent importing machinery abroad as most of the equipment is not manufactured locally at the moment.
He added that when the natural gas pipeline to Sinza Street is complete, it will be able to supply gas to more than 1000 houses, but it will begin with 170 households.
Dr Mataragio said the use of gas is very convenient, where the customer will be connected to natural gas and installed special meters, and it will be easier to buy gas through the internet, start using it while monitoring its use through meters just like in the use of LUKU electricity.
He said estimated expenditure for a family of six (6) people is 29,000/- per month, or an average of 1,000/- per day for use in cooking all kinds of food, including those that take longer to cook, especially beans.
"Therefore the customer will pay for natural gas as he uses it by purchasing the units he needs in a process known as pre-paid payment. TPDC in collaboration with eGA Institutions continues to complete a system that will enable the gas customer for home cooking to be able to purchase gas by telephone or bank as is done in electricity," he said.
Minister for Energy, Mr Doto Biteko said it was forbidden to buy gas meters and pipes from outside the country.
He said Tanzania has three factories so the contractor should use local factories to get the materials.
Mr Bikeko has rejected the 12-month contract and instead asked the company to work within six months and promised to return to the area on June 23 this year for inspection.