Afghanistan’s Oldest Cement Factory Relaunched
The renovation process of Jabal al-Saraj Cement Factory, Afghanistan’s oldest cement factory, has been completed. Officials at the National Development Company say parts of the plant have been overhauled and production has increased. The factory is expected to produce 70 tons of cement per day after this. With the increase in production of Jabal al-Saraj Cement Factory, its annual revenue has reached 82 million Afghanis. Furthermore, the factory employs about 200 people directly and hundreds more indirectly. Citizens believe that the launch of the Jabal al-Saraj cement factory will provide quality and cheap cement to the people. Jabal al-Saraj factory is considered one of the oldest cement factories in the country and had been closed for the last two decades. It is worth mentioning that the cement of this factory has been used in building the Macrorians, the building of the Ministry of Communications and Technology (18 stories) and the Intercontinental Hotel.
The repair work of Jabal al-Saraj Cement Factory was completed on Wednesday, December 23, and the factory resumed its production. The opening ceremony was attended by local officials from Parwan and the National Development Company of Afghanistan. They noted that after this, the production of this factory would increase. The plant merged with the National Development Company in June this year and reopened after the company overhauled parts of it.
Abdul Momin Mansoor, deputy director of the National Development Company, described the resumption of production of Jabal al-Saraj cement as a step towards “Afghanistan’s self-sufficiency” in the operation plan of the factory and stressed that by reactivating it, 70 tons of cement would be produced in one day. Mr. Mansoor added that with the increase in cement production at the Jabal al-Saraj plant, its annual revenue would touch 82 million Afghanis per year. He stressed that this institution is trying to increase the production of this factory. According to the National Development Company, with the activation of this factory, 200 people will be employed in it. However, based on this factory’s past record, hundreds of others will work in it indirectly.
Parwan Governor Fazluddin Ayar described the factory’s re-opening as important for the economy of Parwan province and Afghanistan as a whole, and said that the government was working to repair such factories across the country. The governor of Parwan criticized the people who interfered in the reconstruction of these factories, saying that these people were extorting money from them. Mr. Ayar, however, did not name anyone and did not provide information about the extortion of contractor companies by powerful people. It is worth mentioning that the news of the mafia’s influence in this factory had been published in the media before.
However, the residents of Parwan, for their part, are satisfied with the increase in the production of this factory and say that domestic production is much better and cheaper than cement produced in foreign countries. In an interview with 8 Subh, Abdul Basir Malikzada, a resident of Jabal al-Saraj district, expressed his satisfaction with the reconstruction of the Jabal al-Saraj cement factory. He stated, “We are pleased with the reconstruction of the factory. This is much better than importing cement from neighboring countries. These countries have been trying for years to satisfy their own interests from our unrest, and it is natural that they do not provide us with quality goods.”
Despite the factory’s reopening, some of its workers are dissatisfied with their salaries and have raised their demands to the government and the factory leadership. Parwiz Alimi, one of the technical workers of this factory, told 8 Subh newspaper: “We work hard to repair and produce daily, but we have a salary of only 6,000 Afghanis a month, which is very low.” He called on the government to pay attention to the needs of employees and increase their salaries.
It is worth mentioning that Jabal al-Saraj Cement Factory was established as a joint stock company in 1944 with an initial capital of 40 million Afghanis. The factory had the capacity to produce 100 tons of cement per day. The company’s products were nationally and internationally renowned, with equipment purchased from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Russia and other countries. Jabal al-Saraj Cement Factory was finally transformed into a state-owned enterprise in 1972 and came under the administration of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum. Civil wars and the looting of equipment from the Jabal al-Saraj Cement Factory caused the production of this factory to be stopped in 1996. Reconstruction work of this factory was completed at the cost of 70 million Afghanis in 2016, when it started working again. However, the fact that some of the equipment of this factory was worn out caused it to stop working again. Finally, the Presidential Palace merged Jabal al-Saraj Cement Factory in 2019 with seven other entities.