News: Plastics factory to provide economic boost
By 2nd Lt. Timothy Lewin
Al AMARAH, Iraq – U.S. forces in southern Iraq set out to improve the quality of life and economic future of one province in their area of operations.
The Soldiers of Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in conjunction with the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team are working to rebuild a plastics factory in Maysan, which will not only provide jobs but help the agricultural industry in the region.
The plastics factory is a key industrial site in the town of Al Amarah, capable of improving the quality of life of the people of Maysan province by providing jobs and everyday products in this agrarian region.
Before 2003, the factory was fully operational, providing PVC pipe to the farmers around the province. After 2003, the factory saw subsequent waves of looters who left the factory damaged beyond repair. This severely affected the supply of pipes and increased foreign importing of plastic goods, said Stephen Banks, the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team Leader.
Seven years later, Battery A, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Regt. and the PRT are working to replace the damaged equipment in an effort to make the factory operational again.
“The factory employs over 300 Iraqi workers,” Banks said. “This will stimulate the economy by promoting the development of ancillary business, such as delivery services and retail outlets.”Maysan is dependent on agricultural development where modern irrigation systems are crucial to farms’ success. Old methods of irrigation involve repeatedly flooding the fields from canals. PVC pipe links canals to irrigation pumps so water can be distributed in a more efficient manner, increasing crop output.
“The plastic factory will facilitate Iraqi development while decreasing the dependence of imported merchandise.” said 2nd Lt. Lucas Boykin, project purchasing officer and platoon leader, Battery A, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Regt.
Soldiers supporting this mission acknowledge the fact they are getting to assist in the reconstruction of key infrastructure in Iraq.
“These projects [show people] that U.S. forces have a genuine concern about their way of life,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Obermuller.
In addition to agricultural uses, the plastic piping can be used to upgrade the waste water treatment and sanitation services in Maysan. Low cost, high-quality piping will directly improve the province’s quality of life, Banks said.