EXPLAINER: Why Nigerians should embrace use of CNG-powered vehicles

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The Federal Executive Council chaired by President Bola Tinubu recently mandated all government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to, going forward, procure only vehicles and generators powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

The Federal Government also expects its MDAs to begin converting all petrol or diesel-powered vehicles or generators to CNG.

The move is part of plans to cut transport costs occasioned by the country’s exit from the petrol subsidy regime.

Recall the president, delivering his last Independence Day speech, had said: “New CNG conversion kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process”.

Experts believe the government only needs to incentivise investments in CNG while encouraging the conversion of cars through government interventions.

To achieve the gas transition objective, the federal government, through the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, directed Nigeria Customs Service to immediately apply a zero per cent duty on CNG, LPG, CNG equipment components, conversion and installation services, LPG equipment components, conversion and installation services, and all equipment and infrastructure related to the expansion of LPG and the Presidential CNG Initiative, including conversion kits.

Edun also directed that no Value Added Tax be paid on the CNG components and conversion kits.

The aim was to ensure conversion kits and other components needed for CNG are imported without too heavy costs to make vehicle conversion a bit cheaper.

So far, the conversation has been around the cost of conversion, and it is believed that it is around N500,000 for a Toyota Corolla car.

However, it has been said that the cost of buying petrol would be more than the cost spent on conversion and gas refilling in a year.

CNG is natural gas that remains clear, odourless, and non-corrosive; serving as an alternative to petrol. CNG has non-toxic components that do not pollute nature and groundwater. That feature makes it better and more environmentally friendly than petrol and diesel.

It is compressed to the point where it is lighter than air — usually approximately one percent of its original volume.

In the transport sector, CNG is utilised as a cleaner and cost-effective alternative to conventional petrol and diesel fuels.

The major areas which focus on the use of CNGs include:

1. Car life

2. Safety

3. Cost-saving

4. CNG stations availability

5. Climate-friendly

CNG comprises mainly hydrocarbon gasses and vapour and contains predominantly methane. CNG-powered vehicles run on gas, operating like petrol-powered vehicles with spark internal combustion engines.

According to a research publication authored by Chikwendu Ubani and Ikpaisong S. Ubong, running vehicles on CNG would greatly reduce the “troubles” encountered in importing fuel into the country.

CNG cars are said to run quieter than petrol and diesel vehicles, which results in less noise pollution; and also produces fewer emissions and can improve energy security.

Many engines that have been modified to run on CNG or LPG have a longer lifespan than equivalent engines that run on petrol. One reason is that clean-burning gas does not degrade engine oil as much as petrol does, resulting in longer engine and oil life.

Although CNG cars are inexpensive, they do need good maintenance. When compared to petrol, CNG is a highly combustible gas. Accidents can occur even if there is a minor leak from the CNG cylinder or fuel line.

Modern CNG automobiles come with factory-installed CNG kits, and it’s always preferable to buy a CNG car with a CNG kit already installed. However, the majority of individuals attempt to convert their petrol cars to CNG cars, and in the process, they wind up having a local mechanic install a CNG kit.

Both CNG and petrol cars require the same basic maintenance. However, a CNG car requires more care and attention as it has many other components attached to it. The rest of the car’s maintenance is similar to that of a petrol car.

There have been safety concerns and how healthy CNG could be for a vehicle originally designed for gasoline. Many are afraid that there might be gas explosions.

However, some experts allayed the fear of possible explosion, stressing that the CNG cylinder is thick enough to withstand the pressure of what it contains.

In conclusion, switching to compressed natural gas not only helps car owners save money but also contributes to a more sustainable environment. This is particularly relevant as the world continues to face the challenges of climate change.

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