Inside the life of a female long-distance truck driver

If someone had told Radouce Munyakazi a few years ago that she’d end up a cross-border truck driver – although her father was one – she would have not believed it.  It wasn’t until a couple years ago when her business started staggering that she thought beyond her comfort zone. Now, Munyakazi, 30, spends three days on the wheel from Rwanda to Kenya to get cement from Nairobi for Nine United Ltd, a new all-Rwandanfreights enterprise, and spends another three days on her way back.

Yet Munyakazi, a mother of three, doesn’t see that as a burden. “I work for like two months and take a break to be with my family. The job doesn’t keep me apart from my children,” she says. “My family used to worry at the beginning – my husband would call me often asking ‘are you alright?

Did you arrive safely?’ Now they have got used to it.” While her salary is modest, a long-distance truck driver like Munyakazi saves some of the money she is given for upkeep by taking sacrifices. “It depends on how you spend or save your money.”

A year into truck driving is not that long to have achieved one’s dreams, Munyakazi notes. But “I don’t plan on leaving this job anytime soon. It has started paying off.”

To her, the most satisfying aspect about the occupation comes in what she can accomplish by herself. “I don’t like begging for anything. I want to provide for myself and my family and that’s what gives me energy every morning.” Munyakazi adds that women who break into male-dominated professions are actually more advantageous than the opposite gender.

Nonetheless, she says that long-distance truck driving has its own challenges. “Of course, it’s not easy for everyone to drive from 5am to 8pm. Like any other occupation, it takes determination to go against the odds. The challenges don’t affect you when you are determined.”

Munyakazi adds that there are a few setbacks brought by the ongoing global crisis. 

Sometimes, she says, it might take two to three days to drive seven kilometers due to long queues of trucks as drivers wait for clearance or Covid-19 tests.

Currently, there are a handful of female truck drivers in Rwanda and the number of females working in transportation as a whole is 3 per cent of the industry’s total workforce.

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