Musa Magomedov: «A helping hand shall be given on time»
During his interview to 'Kontakty' Musa Magomedov, the General Director of Avdiivka Coke Plant, shared what it takes to maintain production in the armed conflict conditions and told about help to the frontline town.
К: Musa Sergoievych, the enterprise has been operating for two years despite the shelling. How do you manage all this under the severe conditions?
Musa Magomedov: To be honest, this is a difficult year. But if to compare it to the previous two, the situation is better. We were able to survive and to maintain production in harsh conditions, and now we cannot even imagine what we are unable to handle. The enterprise system is built with a certain redundancy, we have learned to respond to emergencies faster and switch promptly. If there are no external sources of electric power, we use internal generation. In this case we work only half capacity of the plant, and the rest is switched to a hot laid-up mode. But we keep working. We learned how to save and be more rational when using coke oven gas resources. If earlier switching the plant to the laid-up mode took us about four days, now we do it during 4-5 hours. Recently we had to use internal generation again due to the shelling. In these circumstances any error or any equipment failure can lead to the complete halt of the enterprise. The time when we work without external sources of electric power means emergency operation, working "on the edge". For some of our employees it means working without sleep.
К: What motivates you not to leave the plant in such a situation??
Musa Magomedov: Each of our 3,800 employees understands that if the enterprise stops completely, there will be no other plant like this. They will have to find a new job to feed their families. And we understand that other plants won't fire their people to take us. The plant maintains viability of the town. Avdiivka Coke was being built for 10 years by 30,000 people. The cost of one coke battery is nearly USD 150 million. We have eight of these batteries, today one of them is in the hot laid-up mode. Even this statistics gives an understanding of the enormous human, time and material resources involved. Yes, it is scary. But not only for us. People keep on living and working even closer to the firing line. This thought gives us more perseverance. We understand that our work has a significant effect on other enterprises provided with our coke. These are Illich Iron and Steel Works of Mariupol, Azovstal, Zaporizhstal and Yenakiieve Iron and Steel Works. These are about 60,000 employees and their families. If we stop, these enterprises will have to purchase coke at the external markets, and that will be a severe blow to the competitiveness of their products. This is an additional responsibility and motivation for us.
К: What do you do to support people?
Musa Magomedov: If you stay together with people, share all the hardships and privations with them, people understand that they are not alone. I can say that none of our first-line managers left the plant during these two years. And practically none of the second line left as well. I believe that those, who didn't leave us in winter 2015, wouldn't leave now.
К: In one of the interviews you said the following: "during the most difficult year my mission is to preserve this plant for people". Has this mission changed today?
Musa Magomedov: The mission changes when global things change around us. Unfortunately, the armed conflict hasn't come to an end. Life hasn't become easier. But we’ve learned one important thing: now we have more faith that we can cope with almost all the difficulties. We’ve learned to cope with problems. Certainly, this is not my personal accomplishment. And the mission is not complete yet. It will be complete, when the peace is established and we understand that everything is fine.
К: You stayed in Avdiivka, are your wife and children with you?
Musa Magomedov: I took my family to Zaporizhia in 2014. My wife was pregnant back then. The situation we live in is not appropriate neither for children, nor for elderly people and maybe women. During the most difficult time we helped people to leave. And during the most severe shelling Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center helped to evacuate and accommodate Avdiivka residents in recreation centres of Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions. But people got tired to live like guests. They come back as soon as it gets quiet. There were times when Avdiivka population reduced to 8,000 people. Now there are nearly 22,000 people living in the town. But I would take every kid away from here. I understand how difficult it is to talk to elderly people about it. When the war started in Dagestan, my mother said she would be the last person to leave that place. Most of the people who lived a long life think this way.
К: Does the Plant help to Avdiivka residents? How does it work?
Musa Magomedov: As soon as the first shells fell in Avdiivka, Rinat Akhmetov set the goal for us: help the town to cope with the disaster and bring it back to life. We started working, rather than waiting until the peace comes back. If we talk about involvement of our enterprise and employees in the heating system restoration, it was very difficult. Heating pipeline, delivering heat to the town, was constantly damaged during shelling. Due to the lack of heat in winter 2015 the heating system in apartment buildings was defrosted. There were just a few contractors in town: 3-4 organizations, a public utility company called "Integrated customer service" and teams from our plant. We purchased pipes, batteries, isolation valves. By winter all the apartment buildings were ready, excluding four damaged houses that hadn't been restored. Looking at the situation in the town today, I believe that we will join the preparation works for the winter season again, the way we did it last year.
К: What else has been done?
Musa Magomedov: We take an active participation in restoration of municipal objects and infrastructure. In 2015 the Managing Company allocated UAH 18 million to help Avdiivka. The funds were used to restore 69 damaged apartment buildings and 15 social objects. And we still keep on working. In 2016 it is planned to spend UAH 9.5 million for the town development. The repair works are already completed in two kindergartens. The first one had plastic windows and entrance doors installed, the second one had two rooms and a music hall repaired. We also repair three schools: renew their gyms, assembly halls and dining room. We perform repair works in the infectious disease ward of the central municipal hospital. We haven't forgotten about elderly people as well. For the convenience of elderly people we renew department of social care at home. There will be a new social hairdressing salon with all the necessary equipment opened there. We arrange bicycle parking facilities in the town. Moreover, we have the following plans: improvement of wells, installation of street lamps in the alleys of the town and placement of athletic fields at the school stadium.
К: What does the aid from Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center mean for the town?
Musa Magomedov: A helping hand shall be given on time. I think no one will argue about this. Now there are several charitable organizations working in Avdiivka, including the international ones. They have good humanitarian packages. But they appeared when the town was rather quiet. There were times, when Avdiivka had no water and electricity, the stores were closed and the closest ones were located in another town a few dozens kilometres away. Back then humanitarian aid was really priceless. And Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center was the first one who started helping. Humanitarian aid was delivered even during the most difficult times for the town. Over these two years the Center delivered almost 40,000 food packages for adults and 2,400 food baskets for children. Besides, the Humanitarian Center delivered medications to patients with diabetes in Avdiivka and provided multiple targeted assistance as well. This is very important for the citizens.
К: If to compare the situation today and two years ago, what has changed?
Musa Magomedov: As I've already mentioned, the situation in town is more quiet, the stores are working. For example, 'Brusnichka' grocery store is open again, the prices for food have reduced. The prices there are equal to the ones in the peaceful areas. And some vendors, who intentionally held up prices, realizing that people have no alternative, are forced to reduce them to normal levels now. Schools get ready for the new academic year, the town is getting ready for the winter season. But in this situation the town needs a clear development strategy more than ever. It needs an understanding how to live and to develop.
К: What else must be done for people affected by the armed conflict?
Musa Magomedov: During hostilities private houses suffer a lot. And we help to restore the damaged houses as much as we can, buying and issuing construction materials. Charitable foundations and international organizations help as well. But, unfortunately, there are more houses being destroyed than restored. People won't restore private housing without help from the state. The situation with multi-storey buildings is more clear, same as social infrastructure objects. But there is no restoration mechanism for private sector. Private business and philanthropists can not restore everything. And this issue has to be settled somehow.