An unexpected gas pressure drop in Gazipur has caused serious interruption for garment factories’ production. Gazipur is one of the main industrial and garment hubs of Bangladesh with more than 3,000 RMG factories. Among the factories, textile, spinning, weaving and fabric processing or yarn-producing factories are mostly gas dependent.
The gas crisis has greatly impacted yarn and apparel production in this readymade garment (RMG) factories by 30% to 40%. Although gas pressure is expected to be 15 PSI per square foot, it has recently been shifting between 2 and 8 PSI.
In this regard, worried factory owners said they are facing losses as most of the machines have to be shut down in the daytime due to the low pressure of gas supplied by the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited.
Despite this, apparel makers said the authorities concerned are not taking any prompt initiative to solve the problem and Titas Gas company is reluctant to talk about the crisis.
One of the leading spinning factories in the country, Mosharaf Spinning Mills Limited in Sreepur Upazila of Gazipur uses generators to operate machinery. The spinning factory was already running at about half its capacity, shutting down 40-50% of its machinery due to sporadic gas supply.
The factory is now using alternative fuels to continue production and meet its export order deadlines. But this has increased production cost and decreased the quality of products. Other factories in the area are also confronting the same problems.
According to people concerned, the gas pressure in the area remains very low from 8 am to late at night. During this time most of the machines in the factories have to stop production.
They said many garments factories are not able to take new orders as their production has been disrupted due to the gas crisis.
Factory owners complained that the authorities are not paying any attention to the problems. There are many illegal gas connections in the area which exceed the number of legal connections and some factories have to run on diesel generators at higher costs.
While RMG workers at these factories have to sit idle due to a decline in production. Those employed based on production contracts are earning less in salaries and allowances, and are also afraid of losing their jobs.
An operator at Mosharaf Composite Textile Mills, said to local media, “The machines remain shut down a lot due to problems in gas pressure. That is why we have to sit idle and if we do not work, our salaries and attendance are cut.”
While another staff said production has declined due to low gas pressure. The machines are kept off most of the time which damages the clothes inside. This has a bad effect on the whole production process.”
Most state-of-the-art yarn factories operate 24 hours a day with captive power generation. Gas is used as fuel in this process, but due to low gas pressure, we have to shut down production equipment.
Gas pressure is a little better on Friday and Saturday compared to other days of the week when the pressure goes down by 1-2 PSI. Our production has decreased by an average of 30 percent.
A lot of clothes remain in the vessel of a machine. If the machine is shut down the clothes get damaged. It is hard for us to overcome this loss. I am drawing the attention of the authorities to keeping the gas pressure normal. Otherwise, we will not be able to run our factory well, which will hamper the economic growth of the country.
Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) has more than 400 small and large-scale industries in Gazipur and the serious gas crisis has harmfully impacted these factories. Leading factory owners and workers’ organizations have demanded immediate action to solve the problem.
Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Manager (Public Relations) Mirza Mahbub said to a local media, “Our total demand is 2,200 mmcf. After the introduction of LNG, we got 18,00-1,900 mmcf which could cover the demand fairly. Now it has come down to 1,600-1,700 mmcf.”
“Our LNG is coming but sometimes there is a gap. Work is also being done on the LNG terminal. But now the problem is that a gap has been created. However, if the LNG supply is normal, this problem will not exist,” he further added.