Textile mills need the pressure of 10 pounds per square inch (PSI) or more for uninterrupted operations. But currently, sometimes the pressure level goes as low as 1.5 PSI
The textile and apparel sectors are feeling the pinch of ongoing gas shortage problems in the major industrial areas of the country including Savar, Narayanganj, Dhamrai, Manikganj, Gazipur and Chattogram.
Industry insiders said that the textile millers are in the fear of losing work orders if production cannot be continued. Because of the low pressure of the gas in the major industrial areas, a number of factory units have been running at 50%-60% capacity.
Textile mills need the pressure of 10 pounds per square inch (PSI) or more for uninterrupted operations. But currently, sometimes the pressure level goes as low as 1.5 PSI.
The country's apparel sector is also facing losses. About 80% of the yarn of the country's apparel sector is supplied by domestic millers. As a result, there is a risk of product shipment delays due to the untimely supply of the yarn, they said.
Textile millers also said that they have to lower the production to a significant rate due to the severe shortage of gas pressure since last month. They are now worried about their investment.
Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), said in a statement that the spinning, weaving, dyeing-printing-finishing industries of Bangladesh are run on the basis of captive power generation, where gas is the main fuel.
“The gas supply has been severely disrupted recently, where some factories run their productions by shutting down 70% of its machinery,” he added.
He also said that the sector felt the same problems previously and the solution to the gas crisis came from government high-ups fast. But this time, they have not received any positive responses from the government even after drawing attention by showing the negative impact of this problem.
“Despite the increase of the price of cotton in the international market, we have kept the price of yarn at a tolerable level to take forward the garment industry, which is the major source of export earnings of our country,” he added.
He fears if the issue of gas shortage gets prolonged, the production of yarn will be disrupted significantly, which will have a negative impact on the country's garment industry.
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told Dhaka Tribune that the country's garment sector has been suffering this problem directly for the past month.
“We are also suffering as textile millers will not be able to supply the yarn on time again if there is no quick solution to this problem, which will further hamper our production. The timely shipment of the huge amount of purchase orders will be affected,” he added.
He also said that they have contacted Titas Gas authority, but they did not give any proper responses.
“Maybe the gas is being diverted to some other big production like power generation. In fact, it is almost impossible to keep the wheel of the economy moving by threatening the garment industry,” he added.
He also said that it needs government intervention on an urgent basis.
“We are 168th out of 190 countries in Ease of Doing Business, which means we are lagging behind. It is difficult to survive if various obstacles keep hitting us like this,” he added.
He further said that if the gas problem is prolonged, it will not be possible to fulfil the target they were pursuing, and efforts to return sales to the pre-pandemic level will be hampered.
Requesting anonymity, an official of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL), said that the pressure of the supply of gas heavily relies on the availability of the gas in the pipelines.
“We are working on these issues for a couple of days and we are hopeful that the situation of gas supply will improve soon,” the official added.
However, he did not say anything about why gas became unavailable in the pipelines and also did not talk about any definite date when the problem will be fixed.
Earlier on September 15, the BTMA sent a letter to Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to the prime minister, seeking a solution to the gas shortage problems. Then they also called a press conference on this issue on September 16.
According to the BTMA, some 450 spinning mills have been supplying 80% of the demand for yarn of the local knitwear factories currently who are the main consumers of natural gas.