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Sep 06, 2017
Nangarhar slate stone processing firms face uncertain fate
Sep 05, 2017 - 18:09
JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Officials at slate stone processing factories in eastern Nangarhar province say thousands of people would become jobless if the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) did not renew their contracts.
They say the companies would also suffer millions of afghanis they have invested if the factories remain inactive.
Slate stone deposits exist in the Spin Ghar Mountains in Nangarhar and are used in 130 types of different decorative, health and other objects.
Afghanistan had no factories for processing precious stones until many of such factories were activated in Nangarhar province following a presidential order.
Around 7,000 people directly and up to 15,000 individuals indirectly work in the mines extraction companies in the province, but their number has been on the decline with each passing day now.
There are 38 extraction firms and 24 processing factories of slate stones in Nangarhar operating in Sheikh Mesri Industrial Park and different parts of the province.
Besides extension of their contracts, slate officials of factories also demand security, electricity and other facilities.
Sayed Anwar Omar, owner of Salman Shirzad Stones Processing Factory, told Pajhwok Afghan News that extracting the stone was a difficult job with a very limited advantage.
“We extract the stones with many difficulties and under insecurity pressure in Sherzad district and then we transfer them on un-asphalted ways to Jalalabad city and Sheikh Mesri Industrial Park, we first process them here and then export them to other Asian, European and American countries via Pakistan,” he said.
He said the stones were used in 130 different objects but it was fully processed by a few countries. Omar said they were now able to process the stone by 50 percent inside Nangarhar.
Abdul Wahab Zazai, owner of Afghan Talak Processing Factory, said they accepted all conditions of the contracts with the government, but they were provided no facilities.
“I brought power cables, pylons and transformer at my personal expenses, but the government at least does not connect the power cables to our factory,” he said.
An association of slate stones processing factories also exists in Nangarhar for resolving problems of its members.
Haji Wali Khogyani, head of the association, told Pajhwok that 38 extraction companies and 24 processing factories of slate stones were available in Nangarhar.
Besides the lack of electricity and adequate security, another major problem was not extending of slate stones processing contracts by MoMP, he said.
The companies and factories with millions of dollars investment provided job opportunities for 7,000 people directly and around 15,000 people indirectly in Nangarhar, but some of them remain totally inactive due to expiry of their contracts.
He said the number of workers was reducing with each passing day and some factories had collapsed. “These factories would suffer millions of dollars if the MoMP does not extend contracts with them.”
The owners of these factories say they have invested from $500,000 to $2.5 million and they may face many problems if the government continues to ignore them.
Haji Wali Khogyani said the factory owners might start a protest movement in defense of their rights.
People working in these factories also said the government should extend contracts of the firms.
Abul Zafar, who is working in Ahmad Shah Talak Processing Factory, said around 150 people would alongside him but their number now reduced to 50.
The government should extend contracts for the sake of people’s jobs, he said.
Eng. Abdul Hadi Safi, a worker with Nabi Afghan Processing Factory, said 120 people were working there but they might lose jobs if the government did not extend the factory’s contract.
Meanwhile, MoMP spokesman Abdul Qadir Mustafa, said efforts were underway for resolving problems concerning small factories. “But winners of big contracts have to adjust themselves with the new method of the ministry.”
He said in the past many problems plagued contracts after they were signed, but the new method had resolved these3 issues.
Nangarhar governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, said the problems of electricity and security in Sheikh Mesri Industrial Park had been resolved somehow.
He said a plan was being developed for full solution to the mentioned problems.
He said a security post had been established at the end of the park and some factories enjoyed enough electricity, but all did not receive the service for being in short supply.
Khogyani said all problems facing the factories in Nangarhar would be resolved according to the new plan.
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