Breaking the gender barrier
If you think you can do better in anything in this world just because you are a man, then think twice.
One pint sized, Rose Lynd Nguvau has certainly changed the notion that driving heavy mining machinery operations are patriarchal dominated.
Nguvau (30) drives a HaulpaK Komatsu truck 730; a machine, which stands a herculean 6.25 m high with a width of 12.83m, designed for hauling construction material and excavated earth and rocks.
The HaulpaK Komatsu truck 730 weighs 180tonnes and has potential to double its weight when fully loaded and goes up to 360 tonnes.
As if that is not scary enough, its tyres are about two meters high and are also pumped with water and the speed limit on the mine site cannot be above 8km/h.
Nguvau joined Rössing Uranium in July 2010 as a truck driver and has not looked back since. With the fact that men have always been operating these heavy machines, they (her male colleagues) were not very welcoming to accept the changes.
“In the beginning, there was discrimination from my male colleagues but they progressively changed their attitudes and realised that if they could do it, maybe so could we. Since then, they have been helpful because they realised we need to work together as a team,” Nguvau says.
Living her single life with prospects of getting married in the near future, Nguvauva believes there are no limitations in excelling in some of the disciplines that have been reserved for men for a very long time.
“When I first arrived at the mine site, I used to get easily intimidated and I thought I was chasing a dead goose. It was only once that I got an opportunity to drive the Komatsu on my own that I finally felt at ease. I did pretty well in the beginning but it was never easy to conquer the fear,” she narrates adding that, “Whenever I left work for home, I would motivate myself and try to have a different perception the next day.
“After about three months, I had developed enough confidence and started believing I could do this without anyone’s help. It was never easy overcoming my fear of failure because if you are in that “monster” and you look at the ground from inside it, everything seems so tiny,” she says.
Nguvau, who was born and bred in Windhoek, was looking for work opportunities after high school (at Academia High School) when she heard about a vacancy for a truck driver at the Rössing Uranium and applied for the position first in 2007 but did not make the cut and decided to re-apply in 2009.
This time around, she made the cut and had to go through a six-months training alongside other recruits. One of the obvious requirements for the job is to be a Code 08 driver’s licence holder.
From then, she had to test drive a light car, then do a computer check test.
The following two months saw all the recruits undergoing an induction on how to drive the truck, which at first they had to drive with a training co-ordinator.
“The training co-ordinator taught us about all safety measures needed while driving the Komatsu truck. It is not exactly difficult to drive but it has multiple techniques that one needs to master in order not to make mistakes,” she says.
After undergoing the training under the training co-ordinator’s command, they changed seats and she moved to the driver’s seat under the supervision of a foreman.
Nguvau emphasises on the fact that in this day and age, women should not be afraid of taking up jobs because they are known to be male-dominated.
“If men can do it, so can we. I love my job and intend to stay for years to come, although I believe that a woman should not do it for more than five years as it can be harmful to our health. The rule while doing this job is that one needs to always be careful because it is about safety and the right timing for doing an operation,” she emphasises.
So with such a difficult job that keeps her on her feet all day, one wonders whether she has a social life or not but for her the issue is simple: “I always make it a point that I make time to visit my family and have fun with my friends. Sometimes it gets so difficult that I won’t even get a few minutes to myself at home,” she says.
Notably, she is part of the Rössing Uranium women who are under training to drive the Komatsu trucks and has already proven that gender discrimination at work is only but a notion that can be turned around.