BY SEMIR SEID | ERITREA PROFILE
Many factories have been built in Eritrea as part of nation rebuilding. Massawa PVC Plastic Factory is one of these factories currently producing high quality plastic pipes. This factory was established in 2007.
The general manager of this factory, Mr. Mehari Segid, said that the factory was established in line with the national development plan. It has been producing several types and sizes of plastic pipes through its modern machinery for the last ten years.
The three units in the factory are the big-size pipe manufacturing unit, drip irrigation pipe unit and fixtures manufacturing unit. Generally, 17 types of plastic products are produced for three purposes – for clean water services, for agriculture, and for a sewage system.
Four machines brought from Italy with a capacity to run 72 revolutions per minute (rpm) make a complete pipe within minutes. The pipes produced in the factory are tested according to the European standard. The factory’s products have high demand from government and non-government institutions as well as the general public. Big farms in Ala, Demas, and Alebu in the Gash Barka region are equipped with pipes from this factory.
The main strength of the Massawa PVC Plastic Factory is its manpower, mainly made up of youth, says the general manager. In the early stages of the establishment of the factory, only one person was operating the machines, but, eventually, recruitment of employees from different sectors and colleges of the country resulted in a boost of production both in quantity and quality.
The 84 employees recruited at different times show interest in and dedication to mastering the overall production process. Work ethics, time management and interest in making the best quality products are the hallmark of the factory. The precision and accuracy in calculations of the production process are all executed by these young and motivated employees.
Most of all, the employees of this factory are distinguished by their synergy in the working environment. It adds a great value in boosting production from time to time. There are electricians, mechanics, plumbers as well as technicians deployed in the three units of the factory.
The Production Manager, Mr. Okbay Kiflemariam said that the factory uses job rotation for employees which allows them to multi-task and eventually upgrade themselves. He further said that he had no idea about how to use a screwdriver in his first few days in the factory but now he is the head of the production unit.
Mr. Mohammed Sraj Jabir, the technical manager, on his part, said that all installation or maintenance is done by the employees of the factory. Because the majority of the employees in the factory are young who have gained enough experience at the factory, any technical problem is fixed within.
Tsegay Tekleab, a plumbing manager, said that that team-work is really exhibited in the factory. He further said that he has gained a lot since he was hired in the factory in 2009 and added that all plumbing calculations are precisely executed to have the needed shapes and sizes of pipes. Inventory management is another unit of the factory with good organization. Mr. Samuel Hadish, the Store manager, said that the factory had never stock out. He further said that the factory has created employment and is so efficient and organized.
The words of the employees tell that they have gained a lot of skills in the last decade and the factory is a platform that has allowed them to transform the theories they learned at school into a direct experience. Further, many employees said that the effective production to date is the result of the decentralized decision making the top management practices.
The feedback from customers who use the products of this factory is positive. Whenever farmers or other customers take products from this factory, they are supplied with consultation services on how to use the PVC pipes so that they could last longer. The manager, Mr. Segid, recommends that any PVC pipe should be buried at least one meter below the ground for durability. The plastic shouldn’t be exposed to sun, wind or water as it has a tendency to expand when it is warm and contract when it is in cold.
The interesting thing in this factory is its capacity to make PVC pipes by recycling scraps or obsolete pipes. The factory makes sure that all the obsolete plastic pipes throughout the country are collected and brought to the manufacturing unit for reprocessing. After collection, the pipes are washed, cut and ground to be used as raw material. The plastic pipes produced by recycling are similar in quality to the others.
According to Mr. Segid, pipes made from recycled plastic met 85% of the standard when tested in Italy. The machines installed in this factory automatically test the quality of the recycled products, but for reliability, they were sent abroad. According to the manager, recycling is highly encouraging since the machines will be functioning without interruption. The machines use memory cards to properly function and they shouldn’t be idle from an operation.
The raw materials needed to produce plastic pipes are imported from Saudi Arabia. At the beginning, the factory used 75% imported raw materials and 25% recycled plastic to make plastic pipes. Today, some pipes are made exclusively from recycled plastic. The factory is so confident that it will make sure there is no wasted PVC plastic product in the factory or in the country. The manufacturing unit of the factory has never failed in operating for lack of raw materials.
The Massawa PVC plastic factory is contributing to the national development and creating employment opportunities for citizens. The general manager underscores that “Seeing is believing” and recommends everyone to visit the site.
Establishing and operating such factories in the port city of Massawa at the free economic zone is likely to facilitate regional and international trade. The presence of such factories sends the message that investment in such an environment is beneficial both to investors and consumers.