Shortage of compressed natural gas (CNG) is causing a lot of inconvenience to auto-rickshaw drivers who have replaced the conventional petrol-driven engines of their three-wheelers with CNG engines.
Even as the number of CNG auto-rickshaws has increased manifold in the city, the fuel is available only in three filling stations located on the city outskirts.
As a result, the auto-rickshaw drivers are forced to wait for longer hours at the filling stations.
“These days the waiting period has gone up to three hours as there is a delay in the supply of CNG to the outlets. The irony is, we have to pay Rs. 200 a day towards rent for the auto-rickshaw for a period of 24 hours, which includes the three hours’ waiting period,” says Ch. Gopi, an auto-rickshaw driver from Gandhi Nagar.
There is a sudden shift from conventional diesel engine to the CNG-make due to the wide gap between the prices of fuel.
The auto-rickshaw drivers have found that CNG is more economic, as compared to diesel and thought that they could save on fuel by switching to the CNG mode.
“But now we are in a fix. We can’t go back to conventional mode, as it is a costly affair. At the same time, we can’t wait for long hours for the fuel here,” says Ramchand, an auto-rickshaw driver from Krishnalanka, who was waiting at the filling station near Ramavarppadu ring road.
The remaining two filing stations are located at Singh Nagar and Bhavanipuram areas.
He says there is a need for improving the supply at the filling stations, besides increasing the number of CNG outlets. “The delay in filling is due to non-availability of stock. We are cooperating with the drivers by providing them information about the stock position on telephone,” says Chandrasekhar, manager of the filling station at Ramavarappadu.
“Now there are about 4,000 auto-rickshaws that run on CNG in the city. There is an immediate need to increase the number of filling stations,” says Vaddadi Chandrasekhar, convener of the newly formed Vijayawada CNG Auto Owners and Drivers Federation.
Members of the federation on Friday took out a rally and staged a demonstration in front of the Sub-Collector’s office and at the CNG plant at Nainavaram demanding immediate solution to their problems.