Capt Farrukh Munir

Pakistan Steel is that one and only steel making organization whose foundation stone was laid in December, 1973. Consisting of a number of interdependent plants Pakistan Steel commenced production in 1985. Ever since it was set up Pakistan Steel has seen many highs and lows. Its was set up mainly to give an impetus to the Engineering industry of the country, that’s why it is considered the pioneer in this field. The setting up of Pakistan Steel not only contributed to the development of the various Engineering industries, but it also played a key role in bringing forth a vast number of experienced and well trained engineers and technicians, these ‘Men of Steel’ who are today working not only in the parent organization, but in scores of other metallurgical and engineering organizations both inside our country and in foreign countries too. The country’s engineering firms are benefiting greatly from these ‘Men of Steel”. These sons of the nation make us proud.

At the top level in Pakistan Steel today i.e. in the Management there are very senior and experienced engineers and technical people besides non-technical administrative personnel who are all doing their best for the progress and growth of the steel mills corporation. The technicians and workers of Pakistan Steel are experienced, competent and fully literate. These technicians and workers are working in tandem with the Management to pull the organization out of the multifarious problems faced by it. Everyone, from the highest rank down to the lowest worker, has a deep emotional attachment to the country’s lone steel making corporation and are keen to make it a success. Many of the staff have spent their entire youth toiling for the growth of Pakistan Steel putting in their best. We often forget the efforts, over and beyond the call of duty, put in by many of our staff members. It must be recalled that when Pakistan Steel was playing a vital role in the nation’s economy as a profit making organization, it was this staff that had made it a successful enterprise. But in the fiscal year 2008-09 the impact of the worldwide financial crises and consequent recession, harmed the steel industry all over the world including Pakistan Steel. In many other countries there was large scale retrenchment of employees from their steel mills rosters, but in our country the staff was not fired because of their excellent work in the past and because of the prevailing wide unemployment it would have been impossible for them to get any other job and they would have suffered badly. It was these very workers who had made the Steel Mills run at 80 to 90 per cent of capacity in the good times and Pakistan Steel had earned billions of rupees in that period. Those were the days when the employees used to get 2 bonuses every year besides any other legitimate facilities.

When Pakistan Steel’s fortunes plunged from high to low, the workers stood firmly with the Management and offered full cooperation. Inspite of the fact that sometimes salaries were not paid to the staff in time, these old faithfuls did not create any problems and maintained a peaceful atmosphere. The patient, devoted, loyal “Men of Steel” being irrevocably attached to their vast national organization, have stood firmly behind the Management in its endeavours. These employees believe that this bad period for Pakistan Steel will also pass away and it will once again become a profit-making organization. We must appreciated their good faith and optimistic attitude. The workers warmly welcomed the statement of the Federal Production Minister made to the Act. Chief Executive Officer, that Pakistan Steel is not being privatized in fact we are working on a plan to expand the steel mills. The Production Minister said that the sole steel making plant (Pakistan Steel) is like a backbone of our country’s economy. To rescue Pakistan Steel from its current difficulties and problems, the Ministry of Production is taking some very concrete steps. The Minister also assured the listeners that protecting the interests of the steel mills employees is among his foremost preferences and he expressed his determination to overcome the problems faced by the Corporation in a short period of time; raw material will be obtained soon and consequently production of steel mill will be enhanced and sales will be conducted under a transparent policy so that profits are maximized. The statement of the Federal Production Minister not only strengthened the morale of the employees, but also served to assure the nation that plans are underway for the expansion of Pakistan Steel. Negotiations are going ahead with Russia to strive for expansion of the production capacity from 1.1 million tons to 1.5 million tons in the first phase and then take it upto 3.0 million tons in the second phase. Here a question maybe posed that if Pakistan Steel is having difficulties in acquiring raw material to meet its recent 1.1 million ton Capacity, how will it be able to handle the supply problem if the capacity goes upto 1.5 million tons and later to 3.0 million tons ?! But we are told that the Management of Pakistan Steel has presented a business plan to the Government of Pakistan. This business plan had earlier been approved by the Board of Directors of Pakistan Steel. Subsequently the Federal Cabinet gave its assent to a bank guaranteed loan of Rs. 6 billion for the acquisition of raw material on a continuing basis, to boost the steel mill’s production. Thanks to this bank guarantee Pakistan Steel is enabled to open an L.C for the import of raw material and in fact the raw material has already started coming in. The first Cargo Ship carrying 55 thousand metric tons of coal from Australia is now anchored at Port Qasim and this raw material has been transferred to the stockyard by means of the conveyer belt installed at the Port Qasim jetty.

This imported coal has activized an important Coke Oven Battery of Pakistan Steel, and the production of Coke has increased rapidly. Apart from Coke, Gas is also being obtained and this Gas is not only being utilized as Energy to run some plants, but the use of this Gas in the Thermal Power Plant has resulted in an increase of 12 megawatts in the production of electricity, which is indeed a major success. The electricity being generated by the Thermal Power Plant of Pakistan Steel not only runs the machines in the plants but also provides uninterrupted light to the residential areas of Steel Town and Gulshan-e Hadeed. As and when needed Pakistan Steel imports or exports electricity between itself and KESC. This is a two way mutually beneficial relationship.  

It should be remembered that the construction and machinery etc of Pakistan Steel cost Rs.26 billion. To date, Pakistan Steel has deposited Rs 100 billion in the state’s exchequer by way of taxes and duties, and even in these present hard times it is still depositing a substantial amount every month, which is quite an accomplishment. Planning has been completed to ensure regular supply of raw material to Pakistan Steel so that it immediately begins to operate at 60 to 70 per cent of capacity. This is good news for the nation. In the most difficult period for our steel mills, we were still able to extract useable Coke out of ‘Coke breeze’ and utilize raw iron obtained from Balochistan to keep the blast furnaces functioning without interruption. Moreover, shortage of natural gas was made up by means of Blast Furnaces gases. Thanks to the cooperation of dedicated and devoted employees electricity in Pakistan Steel was consumed with great restraint and the electricity thus saved was employed for running the Hot Rolling Mills. This is a great accomplishment of the staff of the steel mills.

It is worth mentioning here that the present Chief Executive of the Management of Pakistan Steel, who has a 32 year long association with Pakistan Steel, is a very competent and highly experienced officer. As per the guidelines given by the Ministry of Production and the Board of Directors of Pakistan Steel, the ACEO managed to keep the production going by using local raw iron ore and deriving Coke out of coke breeze. Moreover, he ensured that all plants were duly protected from developing technical faults. In this period keeping the welfare of his staff up most, salaries were paid to staff, even if delayed sometimes, on a continuous, regular basis. All monthly expenses were paid for by the Pakistan Steel Management from its own resources.

Now that raw material has commenced coming in the Management is stepping up the production processes in Pakistan Steel. Blast Furnaces and Steel Converter are operating 24 hours a day. And the steel production is going up. The Hot Rolling Mills, which had been affected by the national energy crises has been made operational, depending upon the Steel Mills own resources. The Management has also made commendable efforts to acquire and absorb a fresh cadre of young engineers and technicians. These youthful ‘Men of Steel’ have been chosen from every area of Pakistan on the basis of merit. Actually some ‘Women of Steel’ have also joined the force of ‘Men of Steel’ and they are all putting in their energies for the progress of the organization. These young people are the architects of the future Pakistan.