Vol. 5 Num 351 Wed. May 25, 2005  

Zia Fertiliser makes loss for frequent mechanical faults

The Ashuganj Zia Fertilizer Company Limited (ZFCL) has turned into a losing concern, mainly due to frequent interruption in production resulting from mechanical breakdown.

As per preliminary estimate, the factory has incurred Tk 10 crore loss so far this financial year, its Managing Director Md Rashidun Nabi told this correspondent. The factory, owned by Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC), had earned Tk 2.5 crore profit last year.

Besides production loss, inflated payments for overtime bills are adding to the loss, he said.

The factory went out of production since May 16, when its cooling tower was damaged by a storm.

There are also faults in its urea reactor and ammonia pipeline. At least 10 coolers at the ammonia plant are out of order now due to leakage in cooler tubes and in the ammonia plant that forced the authorities to stop production.

It was gathered from other sources there that production was interrupted at least 20 times so far in the current financial year. There were 13 major shutdowns when production remained stopped for seven to 12 days.

The frequent shutdowns were due to technical fault and old machinery, the MD said.

He said the factory is now stopped as the cooling tower was tore down by the may 16 storm. Besides, there are technical faults in the ammonia pipeline.

"Our engineers are working hard to repair the faults and production may resume within three-four days", the MD said.

The factory was set up on 194.9 acres of land on the eastern side of the Meghna along the Dhaka-Sylhet highway in 1981. It started commercial production on July 1, 1983.

Italy, Germany, UK, USA, Japan, Holland, France, Austria, Switzerland, India and Canada supplied major equipment under funding by donors.

According to office record, durability of the major equipment is 20 years.

Sources said the factory is supposed to undergo major overhaul after every 18 months.

The last overhaul was done in 2003 at a cost of Tk 76 crore. Another overhaul is overdue, but will be done next year, the MD said.

Overhaul is getting costlier with passage of time as the machinery have become old, he said. The overhaul is done with the factory's own funds.

Its production capacity is also decreasing day by day. It now produces 1250 tonnes of Urea a day against 1600 tonnes earlier, which will leave this fiscal's production target of 4,50,000 tonnes unfulfilled, sources said. The production so far is around 3,55,000 tonnes, they said.

The factory has 1079 officials, 366 employees and 383 workers.

The sources said that the company pays overtime to a large number of employees and workers, ranging up to 70 per cent of their basic salary, even when the factory remains closed. The overtime is realised for maintenance and repair work, the sources said. Many of the employees are working in the factory for 12-15 years, they said.