Sinjar Cement Factory – The Cornerstone Of Redevelopment
Text and images by Luke Coleman
In the first of four reports from Sinjar, Yalla visits the Sinjar Cement Plant, and hears the story behind a factory crucial to the reconstruction of this area of Nineveh province.
As you round the eastern end of Mount Sinjar the imposing, damaged buildings of Sinjar Cement Plant give the first indication of the devastation lying beyond in the Yazidi-majority town.
The factory is situated on Road 47, the strategically vital link between Mosul and Syria that was retaken by the Peshmerga in November as ISIL lost Sinjar. The massive plant had received significant foreign and local investment in recent years and was a major employer in the area.
The factory will be integral to rebuilding Sinjar and its surrounding villages, but the challenges that must be overcome to achieve that are daunting. A Yazidi Peshmerga guarding the buildings recalls that even before ISIL arrived, the workers employed by the Northern Cement State Company were almost exclusively Sunni Arabs.
“There were no Yazidis or non-Sunni,” says Mam Kawa, who cannot envisage a way back to how things were before, either with the town’s Sunni residents or the Government in Baghdad.
“We want the factory to be administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government, because when the federal government ran it the people that worked here were the people that joined ISIL. We [Yazidis] want to operate it under KRG administration.”
Elsewhere in Sinjar, other significant challenges must be overcome if the town is to be rehabilitated. Not only has all the skilled labour left, but a great deal of equipment, too. “The director of the factory told me that ISIL looted equipment worth 9 billion dinars ($8.1 million). They took it to Badosh [south of Mosul] and established a new factory there,” claims Mam Kawa.