The military aggression against Ukraine caused an essential damage to the whole economy of the country. On the other hand, there are specific settlements, which vital activities depend entirely on the successful operation of a single enterprise that is called as a town-forming one. The territorial community of Pobuzke is one of such regions. The settlement built around Pobuzky Ferronickel Plant, as well as several other villages, which are included in the community, experience PFP’s forced shutdown. Vyacheslav Kuprenyuk, head of Pobuzke settlement, told us how they coped with the problems, as well as about the help of plant’s international investors.
How does Pobuzky Ferronickel Plant influence the community’s vital activities?
Pobuzky Ferronickel Plant is the main town-forming enterprise that provides for 72.5% of community’s budget incomes. PFP takes a constant care of the needs of our hospital. Except the direct material aid to the citizens, we, together with the enterprise, carried out an essential work on improving the community’s infrastructure. We renovated the parks, established the function of sports classes, upgraded the recreational areas for people.
A sanitation truck for the settlement was purchased in Europe at the plant’s costs. Now, we are in progress in purchasing the road machinery for the community, and repair the roads as well. Despite the war, PFP allocated UAH 600 ths. for these purposes in 2022.
The settlement is covered with the “Community’s police officer” program where PFP is also taking an active part. The plant purchased a car for the police officer and repaired the control point at their expenses; also, they bought the office equipment. Besides, the plant provides the high-quality potable water to Pobuzke and takes care of the water drainage. On the other hand, PFP finances both the maintenance and the repair of high- and medium-pressure gas ducts from the main gas pipeline in Uman, which enabled to deliver the gas to Pobuzke and to surrounding villages.
The charity fund “Development of Pobuzhya” that helps citizens, military forces, disabled people, as well as cultural, medical, educational and sports institutions in the community, works at the plant.
Has the plant’s shutdown influenced the situation in the community to the large extent?
The community experiences rather an unfavourable situation nowadays. In the first turn, this affects our budget; we have to have leaves of absence, and the educational institutions transfer to paying two thirds from the salary.
Unfortunately, we are forced to suspend implementing large-scale projects on community’s improvements for now; besides, PFP’s shutdown reduced our abilities on rendering assistance to people in need.
We planned to implement a series of projects for the settlement’s improvement in 2023. They would include the renewal pedestrian alleys, the construction of a waste sorting line, opening of a youth center. We planned to purchase both a laboratory and an X-ray machine for the settlement hospital.
The plant experiences difficult times, but they continue helping us. These are gifts for children, portable generators for bomb shelters.
In other words, despite the plant’s shutdown, its management keeps rendering aid to the community.
On a constant basis. We hold sports competitions in both the region and the district. The plant gives considerable assistance by providing the transport and financing the events. Our requests have never been rejected. On the other hand, the program for region’s talented kids, which was started by Solway, keeps supporting young people, though having been changed.
Despite the shutdown, the plant pays two thirds of the salary to their employees. It should be said that 30% of the settlement’s population work with PFP at present.
Nowadays, the community, the farmers and the plant render air to our military forces. We try to help with food and established the production of potbelly stoves. PFP themselves provides around 70% of the help.
How do the plant’s investors cooperate with the community’s administration?
The plant’s investor, international Solway Group, declared from the 1st day of war that they would continue their social work. This applies to the help to both local residents and the military. The help includes the food, first-aid kits, cars for the army, copters and thermal cameras. Everyone who asked for help at PFP or at the charity fund received it. That is why we can say that the investor is interested in both the plant’s operation and the community’s welfare.
PFP has functioned using imported raw materials during the last years. What is the situation nowadays?
Before the war, the plant received the raw materials from Odesa and Illichivsk ports, via railway. The ore delivery became a critical problem now because the ports were closed. The plant was forced to transport it from the border with Europe. This results in the increase in raw materials’ price but, despite this fact, the plant continues accumulating the resources to keep working.
Of course, we hope that the situation will improve and the plant will recommence their operation. I have worked with the plant for a long time and consider its difficulties as my own personal problems, that is why I follow the efforts of both the plant’s management and the investors on recovering the situation. Both I and our community are ready to render our all possible assistance to them, thus we will not stay apart. We consider possible risks, but I see people’s mood and their hopes for the best. I am sure that the work with and for the people will have positive results.
In your opinion, what are the chances for the plant to resume working?
In my opinion, there are no obstacles to resume working, except the logistics and the uninterrupted supply of electric energy as well. We hope that the power promised allows to recommence the plant’s operation. Moreover, its products, namely ferronickel, are in high demand both in the country and abroad. The plant’s management takes into account all risks for the work start, including the energy supply.
Together with the plant, we prepared the community’s development program, which we plan to implement in the nearest future. It includes the development of the infrastructure, the roads’ repair, the establishment of lighting in villages, but we can achieve this only provided a quick victory in the war.
That is why I would like to see the country cooperating with the enterprises, especially with such town-forming ones as PFP, and helping them resolve some problems.