Piped cooking gas project saves Nairobi residents time and money

Clarkson Adewa, a service provider at LPG explains how a piped gas meter connected to Freedom Heights apartments in Lang'ata operates on Thursday, March 24, 2022 [David Njaaga, Standard]

It is exactly 12:45pm on a hot Tuesday afternoon. Aisha Ali is at home in Lang’ata, Nairobi, preparing lunch for her two children expected to return from school.

She heads to her open kitchen, turns on a tap three metres from the gas cooker.

Moments later, a bluish flame envelopes the burner with a buzz that can be heard from the sitting room. She keeps adjusting the flame.

Fifteen minutes later, she serves each of her children a dish of spaghetti and sends them to the adjacent dining area.

Aisha is among residents living in homes with piped gas, a first-hand design that some investors are embracing to save tenants from the agony of carrying around heavy gas cylinders.

Under this system, gas is delivered to homes through a network of pipes in a fashion similar to piped water.

Plans to introduce a piped gas system in Kenya was first discussed in 2019 by the Petroleum Institute of East Africa.

This elicited debate among Kenyans, with the majority raising concerns on its safety. While the debate subsided, some investors embraced the idea.

And now this is reality at Freedom Heights where Aisha and other tenants are enjoying gas channeled all the way to the kitchen through a pipe.

First, the residential and commercial units under Laser Property services were restyled to suit the piped gas system. The idea was born by the CPF group.

For safety, a Liquefied Petroleum Gas expert is always around the gas plant located 50 metres from the residential areas.

“We use four tanks each containing 1,754 litres serving the commercial area and residential units,” says Clarkson Adewa, who is a service provider.

“The tanks are buried vertically underground as per Epra (Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority) regulations. This is one of the safety measures.”

At the plant, the expert checks the oil drains for purification and pressure regulators for all the units since the gas is stored in liquified form.

“The tanks are refilled after every six weeks or depending on the usage. By the time it reaches residential areas, the pressure is reduce for normal consumption,” Adewa added.

The tanks are regulated at the same time but each unit has a meter that measures the amount of gas used.

The gas is measured in terms of kilograms. One kilogram goes for Sh190 depending on the market price, slightly cheaper than a normal cylinder at the moment.

At the house, there is a gadget that senses anything flammable to alert residents in case of an emergency.

Safety measures

“If a child opens it, it takes around 2 per cent consumption in the air for valves to automatically close. That is another safety measure. Then there is manual valve meant to close the inlet when no one is around,” says Adewa.

The consumer or gas box sits about two metres high in the kitchen where the cooker will be fixed.

Adewa says there are more than five safety steps from the gas plant including pressure reliefs and pressure reduction at the rooftop where metres are installed. The tanks are vertically dug underground.

“The idea is unique and safe compared to normal cylinders. The centralized gas system is also cheap and convenient,” said William Omeno, a  maintenance officer.

The company says there are plans to expand the idea to future projects, with designs already underway.

To set up the piped gas system, the Petroleum (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) Regulations, 2019 spells out various requirements, including stringent safety measures.

An operator who wants to set it up is required to register all incidents, including complaints.