The ongoing pandemic has delayed the construction of the second unit of the Golden Ispat's steel plant, HM Steel and Industry Limited, at Dangarchar in Chattogram.
Golden Ispat is one of the concerns of the Chattogram-based business conglomerate Mostafa Hakim Group.
Its new factory worth $95 million will be equipped to produce 1,200 tonnes of steel products every day and will create job opportunities for 2,000 people.
The local conglomerate had begun the project in early 2019 and aimed to open the factory in September 2020, but it has been unable to complete the scheduled work as the Covid-19 pandemic caused a lack of workers, foreign experts and delays in importing machinery for the factory.
"So far 70 percent of work on the project has been completed. Now we have set our new goal of opening the factory in January or February in 2021. But we are still not sure whether we will be able to start our new project as per our new schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis," said Mohammad Sarwar Alam, director of Golden Ispat Limited.
Golden Ispat undertook the project on 12 acres of land to expand its MS bar and billets manufacturing business following the success of its first unit set up at Kumira in the port city.
Mohammad Sarwar Alam said many of the Chinese and Indian experts of the firm were unable to come to Bangladesh owing to the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020. The consultants, engineers and foreign experts also cannot travel to the project site because of the pandemic.
"Moreover, some exporters delayed shipments because of the Covid-19 crisis and the shipment of cargo takes a much longer time to arrive in Chattogram port compared to that in normal times," said Alam.
Mohammad Sarwar Alam further said the firm had to suspend construction work from April to June due to safety and health issues of the workers.
"From June we have resumed construction work on a limited scale with maximum safety. Now we are planning to resume work on a full scale from August," he added.
Economist and East Delta University Vice-Chancellor Professor Muhammad Sikander Khan said, "Delaying the project means delaying the creation of 2,000 jobs in the country. The coronavirus is not only a serious health crisis but has also emerged as a destroyer of jobs. It is seriously hampering new job creation."
He suggested, though, that lifestyles be changed and people start working through following health guidelines.
"We have to adapt to the situation without waiting for vaccines. The crisis may remain for one or two more years," he added.
The Mostafa Hakim Group– whose businesses include ship breaking, cement, auto bricks, oxygen, real estate, liquefied petroleum gas, textiles, jute, import and distribution – has been involved in the steel manufacturing business since 1984.
The company established its first steel plant, Golden Iron Works Limited, in 1984 and later another plant named Golden Steel Alloy Works Limited was set up in 1987. Both are semi-automatic mills.
Later, the company established Golden Ispat Limited in 2017, which has a fully automatic steel plant with a state of the art manufacturing process.
The group set up its first plant at Kumira in Chattogram, which has the capacity to manufacture 800 metric tonnes of MS bar daily under the brand name "Golden Ispat".
The company occupied good market shares in the steel market by supplying premium quality products to consumers and maintaining quality.
The company is supplying its products to mega projects in Bangladesh as well as supplying products to various government organisations.
Mohammad Sarwar Alam said, "The Mostafa Hakim group is doing business with great pride, honesty and integrity for the last four decades. We always value our commitments to our customers by supplying top quality products and by always maintaining product quality at an optimum level."
"Considering that there is a high demand for our products, we have undertaken the project to expand our business," he added.