Company wants to refuel a greener Haiti

He is trying to attain financial gain with the use of propane.

Autogaz Haiti, a Haiti-based company, which converts gas operated transport vehicles to use propane is playing a major role in what can be a greener future for the country. The company’s founder and businessman Jean Conille, is a 2017 recipient of the The International Economic Award for Environmental Protection Efforts, which was awarded to him earlier this year. Since creating the company in 2015 he said he is proud of his recognition, and that the award represents something greater than him.

“The award is not just for me — it’s for Haiti and I believe we can make a difference,” he said. “The environment has no citizenship and if Haiti has an environmental problem, the world has an environmental problem — it’s a chain reaction affecting everyone.”

The mission of Autogaz is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Haiti by providing a safer fuel alternative for transport taxis, also known as tap-tap. With propane kits, tap-tap drivers can convert their gas-running vehicles to propane, and save money through contracts similar to cell phone bills, said Conille. Currently a gallon of propane would cost a driver half of what they can pay for a gallon of gas.

Gas is also known to emit harmful exhaust, and an environmentally-friendly substitute is implementing propane. The conversion from diesel and gas fuelled cars would reduce pollution in Haiti, he said.

There are an estimated 150,000 tap-tap taxis in Haiti and many of these trucks are becoming the source of the environmental problem.

“The biggest environmental challenge right now is deforestation, greenhouse gas, and the pollution from tap-taps,” said Conille. “A lot of tap-taps are in very bad condition because they are not serviced properly and the fumes from the vehicles can make the air intolerable.”

Conille said that with Haiti having only two percent of forestation left in the country, urgent measures to save the environment’s green pastures are needed, and Autogaz wants to assist this effort by converting taxis to use propane.

It’s as bad as it can get and we’re doing everything to encourage forestation,” he said.

Enlisting experts to obtain a license for Autogaz, a study concluded that if all taxi’s converted to propane it would not only save drivers $300 more, but also improve the environment in Haiti by 20 percent.

There are four Autogaz stations in Haiti mostly located in Port-au-Prince where most tap-taps operate. Two more stations are expected to open in other cities in the country including Gonaive, said Conille.

Due to the popularity of Autogaz, Conille said that other countries in the Caribbean and Africa have approached him about propane kits, but right now he wants to prioritize Haiti, where he is still finding challenges against fuel monopolies in the country.

“We have a lot of demand but before we go international, we want to go national first,” he said. “But right now we have a Ferrari but not driving it more than 40 miles per hour.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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