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Diary of a female truck driver

Emilly-Sibbs

During the first days of their marriage which was blissful, her husband would take her for road trips even across the border and it was during such trips that she did not waste time but learn how to drive a truck even before she got a licence.

By the time she reached 16, Emily Sibbs now 33 years old, was already pregnant after falling victim to the lure of truck drivers who were preying on teenage girls. She eloped with the man but later the union became bitter and painful with all the ingredients of an inevitable breakup, she was not surprised when it finally came and she had to take care of her two children by herself.

She said all was well with her husband during the first years of their marriage but love began to fade with time. The husband was no longer spoiling her although he could afford. He was no longer sending food and the last straw was when he just disappeared into thin air in 2016 and reality dawned on her that she was to take care of their two children.

“My husband was based in South Africa and I was based in Harare with the children. He was no longer sending money for food. I had to fend for my family and the only thing that I knew was to drive. I had not finished my education and things were tough for me. My family was not welcoming also as I had left unceremoniously,” she narrated.

She had to sell some of her property to acquire a driver’s licence. “I went straight for Class 2 as I had experience already and it was not a problem. But getting a job was a challenge because my licence was relatively new and more importantly, I was a woman. Getting a job ahead of men, experienced for that matter, was tough,” she said.

She was however, surprised when one commuter omnibus owner in the capital who, after testing her, was impressed and offered her a job.

“That was my first job and I became a kombi driver. It was challenging as I was among the first women to drive a kombi in Harare among a host of other men. But I had no option, the desperation of my situation forced me to endure and get used to the torturous exertion of working in a vulgar environment that is controlled by touts,” she said.

Besides not getting used to the not so mannered language synonymous with kombi operators at the “renkini”, she faced a barrage of other challenges. “We would share the same toilet with men as the men would abandon theirs after messing them and start using ours.

This did not give us enough privacy that we require as women. Besides, every man would be making love proposals to you and everyone would be looking down upon you as a woman. But I am happy because I later inspired others and saw other women joining in,” she said.

After working for some time, Sibbs left the kombi driving business and went for the more lucrative long-distance trucks.

“This was the most challenging part of my career. Yes, it was paying more than the kombis but I had challenges. Firstly, I was away from my children for a long time and as a single parent, you wouldn’t know what would befall them,” said Sibbs.

Besides that, she would suffer period pains when she was encountering her menstrual period forcing her to abandon work for some days, a feat the employer would not take lightly.

“When you are going through that process, there are a lot of challenges that you face and if you are travelling long distances, you have to stop many times cleaning yourself up or doing this and that and mostly you endanger yourself as you can be a robbery target,” she said.

After working for five months, she couldn’t cope. She had to quit and went back to Harare where she stayed jobless for some time.

“I then applied for a job at Msasa Gas where I am currently working. These are people who understand and accept me as I am. I operate a rigid truck moving gas from one place to the other within the capital or outside. The job allows me to have time with my children and be there for them,” she said.

After shrugging off the societal beliefs and overcoming the gender barrier, Sibbs is able to take care of her daughter (12) and son (7) and also pay for their tuition fees all alone.

“I can’t say I’m living pretty but I can afford to send my children to good schools, I drive my own car and I am independent. I could not have achieved this had I thought my life had ended and taken other routes that most girls in my situation would have taken,” she narrated.

Her story is one of inspiration to some girls who lost hope after making the wrong decision earlier in life. There are a lot of young girls who are getting married under different circumstances and turn to prostitution route when the marriages collapse as they find ways to fend for the children.

Zimbabwe Gender Commission Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Virginia Muwanigwa spoke strongly against child marriages which she said should not happen in the first place. She said in the event that it had happened those girls should not be rejected by society.

On the gender aspect however, Mrs. Muwanigwa said that the country had made significant strides in ensuring gender equality was part of the society.

“As a country we have done very well in terms of making legislative framework clear in terms of gender equality and non-discrimination. We have set up gender machinery whose mandates is to explain different gender issues to achieve gender equality and make sure that it becomes a reality,” said Mrs Muwanigwa.

She however, said despite the efforts, gender equality has remained a theory in the country.

“Gender equality remains a challenge as in practice it is found wanting. There are men who believe that if we talk of gender equality, we will be fighting them yet we are only saying let us give women equal opportunities and equal space to express their capabilities,” she said.

Shamwari Yemwanasikana Project Co-ordinator, Marjorie Nhamosinesu feels a more convenient working environment should be created for women.

“It is so unfortunate that a sister had to leave a more lucrative and chosen job because of nature. Creating a more friendly workplace can help to ensure that female staff feel comfortable and safe every day. A working environment that enables open conversation about menstruation is equally important,” she said.

She said such an environment also goes on to boost morale, increase productivity and boost staff confidence and brings out the best out of a female worker.

Source – Nehanda Radio

In other news – Govt: No student should be sent home

Govt: No student should be sent home. The government has implored schools not to send pupils home for failure to pay the full amount of fees on time but to make payment plans with parents and guardians.

Boarding-school-students

Speaking to State media on Sunday, Primary and Secondary Education Ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said they want all pupils to be allowed to attend classes while parents engage…Learn More.

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