Managing Director Mr.Yasuo Shoji (J&M Steel Solutions Co., Ltd.)
- Interviewer: Khin Maung Htwe and Win Win Maw, Photos: Zaw Min Latt
The Public Works Department of the Ministry of Construction and JFE Engineering Corporation of Japan set up J&M Steel Solutions Co. Ltd as a joint venture in 2014. Under the JV, a steel factory was set up on a 16-acre plot in Thakayta, Yangon, in July the same year. Myanmar invested 40 per cent and Japan 60 per cent in the project, with the permission of the Myanmar Investment Commission.
Phase A of the factory started production in the month of May in the 2015-2016 fiscal.
Initially, the factory produced 10,000 tons of steel annually. So far in the current financial year, the factory has produced 80,000 tons of steel. Annual production will be raised to 30,000 tons to fulfil local demand and for export. As Myanmar has a very large number of natural watercourses large and small, the country needs a lot of bridges for ensuring smooth transport all over it. A news team from the Myanmar News Agency interviewed officials involved in the project:
U Kyaw Kaung Cho
Bridge Management Department
Currently, many of the bridges were built with the steel frames and related steel materials produced by the J&M steel factory. The number of Plate Girder type bridges is over 70, the number of Steel Truss Type Bridge is over 15 and the number of Box Girder Type Bridge is over 13. Up to now over 100 steel frame bridges have been built. Some of the major bridges are the Bogyoke Aung San Bridge (Chaungzon) in Mon State, Htigyaing Bridge, Chindwin Bridge (Khamti) and Chindwin Bridge (Homalin). The soon-to-be-opened Myaungmya Bridge and many other new bridges are being built with steel produced by the mill. The J&M steel factory exported 200 tons of steel to Laos in 2014, 10000 tons to Bangladesh in 2017-2018, and 300 tons to Sri Lanka in 2016. It exported 8000 tons in 2018-2019. Plans are underway to export steel products to India.
The benefit of the factory is that we can buy steel products with kyats and can cut the transporting time and cost of the materials from the factory to the project sites. And we can also get the required steel products in time, especially in the emergency cases like the Myaungmya Bridge. We will be able to open the Myaungmya Bridge soon, thanks to the availability of required materials in the short time. Another benefit is that we acquired technical knowhow in manufacturing construction materials. Moreover, the factory is paying taxes to the State. A total of 600 Myanmars – 100 engineers and 500 workers – are working at the factory. J&M Steel Solutions Co., Ltd. is also sending scholars to Japan at its own expense. So, it is a good opportunity for Myanmar engineers and workers to learn abroad. As for the Bridge Department, it can study the advance techniques of Japan. Moreover, we can witness how smart and systematic the Japanese are at their work. There are many things to learn from them, especially for the new generation engineers. In my view, the country needs more such factories for its further development as they can fulfill its need well.
The factory’s target is to manufacture 30,000 tons of steel per year. The Ministry of Construction is receiving land lease fees from the factory, and it is pouring back the money into the steel factory project as investment. Up to now, its investment has reached USD 9.1 million.
Managing Director Mr.Yasuo Shoji
(J&M Steel Solutions Co., Ltd.)
I have received a letter to form a joint-venture between the JFE Engineering Corporation and the Ministry of Construction. JFE Engineering Corporation has been conducting technical courses in Myanmar even before the formation of the joint-venture. It set up a branch in Yangon for that purpose. It was a rare opportunity for us to invest in Myanmar. There were no difficulties in passing through the process within the framework of the law and rules and regulations.
Since the idea of establishing a company was conceived, we have the goal of disseminating and transferring technology for the improvement of infrastructures in Myanmar. We also wanted Myanmar to be familiar with the Japanese standard as well as the US standard in connection with technology. We have a plan to extend the company. J&M Steel Solutions is producing steel materials required for bridge projects and for other purposes of the Ministry of Construction. It will also do the same in the future.
We were producing only the Simple Plate Girders in the past. But now, we are also producing Truss Type Bridge at the request of the Ministry of Construction. Apart from the orders of the ministry, J&M Steel Solutions is also supplying materials for ODA projects. As most of the bridges are on the watercourses, we wish to erect a jetty so that we can transport our steel products through the waterways as water transport is a cost-effective way. All the Myanmar engineers, technicians and workers are skillful. In accord with our initial goal, we are sending new generation Myanmar engineers and technical workers to Japan for further studies. We have found that they all are ardent learners. We are satisfied with their efforts. I believe that Myanmar engineers will reach the level of designing and manufacturing Steel Bridges by themselves. We need to understand the prevailing situation and the environment of Myanmar if we really wish to make investment in the country. We must find the best means and areas for bilateral cooperation. So, we may be able to make investments more conveniently. I would like to make a request that as we are an export company, there should be the strict observance of the law and rules and regulation in connection with the tax collection because we are facing tough competition from the neighbours and our counterparts. So, there must be proper amendments to the law and rules and regulations to facilitate the process and cut unnecessary procedures and formalities.
Ko Tan Bi
J&M Steel Solutions Co., Ltd.
I joined the company in 2014. I work together with Japanese technicians who are my instructors. Beforehand, I was sent to Japan for a three-year course. After I came back from Japan, I worked and learned together with other Myanmar technicians and workers. I am still a learner till today. At present, workers of the factory have reached a certain level of efficiency. I have some experiences as an employee of a shipyard. I now have a six-year experience at this company besides my study in Japan for three years. The factory gives priority to sanitary, security, safety and health. All the workers must wear a complete set of safety gear at the worksite. Discipline is strict here. When we arrive at the worksite, we first do physical exercise, and then we hold a brief meeting. Afterwards, we start to do our own job. Workers here are trained to be skillful in a particular field. So they become experts in their field, and make fewer mistakes.
They can also stay away from dangers. There is a clinic and a doctor for healthcare. There are also bathrooms and changing rooms, apart from the messing hall, the common room and the parlour.
Ma Aye Myat Mon
Project Management Section
J&M Steel Solutions Co., Ltd.
I joined the factory in 2013. I was assigned at the Shop Drawing Section. After a one-and-a-half year service at the factory, I was sent to Japan to study designing technology. When I arrived back from Japan, I was assigned at the Design &Project Management Section. I was taught about the documentation and document keeping system and mean for ensuring customer satisfaction. Japanese are so précised in doing things. The company staffs are working as a family. Duties are assigned specifically. In the past designing is done by JFE Engineering Corporation in Japan. The factory has only a Shop Drawing Section. But now, plans are underway to perform the designing work by Myanmar engineers at the J&M. I believe that the Myanmar engineers will be able to produce designs in the coming three or four years. My suggestion for Myanmar youths is “Do you work perfectly and take your own responsibility”.