NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – It’s about 2 p.m and Veronica Wanjiru Njoroge is on her routine round of ensuring her truck is in good condition and ready for her next delivery.
Wanjiru, who is fondly known as Ciiru by her colleagues and friends, has ably demonstrated that the career glass ceiling that women face can be shattered by determination and focus.
The 47-year-old mother of three grew in love with cars as she grew up, always insisting to co-drive her father.
She reveals that her firsthand experience with handling cars was when she trained as a mechanic and later joined AAA as a driving instructor before joining Swan Carriers Limited in Athi River as a long-haul truck driver.
“I was a mechanic some time ago and gradually I found myself driving the cars then I later became a trainer. When I was first asked to be a truck driver, I thought it was a joke. I had no experience as a truck driver,” remembers Ciiru.
What started out as interest has now become her main source of income financing the education of her children.
The fact that Ciiru is the only female truck driver at Swan Carriers, and one of the few women in a predominantly male profession does not faze her.
Her 15 years as a truck driver has given her a thick skin despite the challenges she has faced including insults from men. But things have changed with time, with both men and women now respecting her as she crisscrosses the region with her long-haul truck.
“A policeman once abused me and said I am doing a man’s job and that I should go find the right place for a woman. It hurt me but now I wish I could meet the officer again,” said Ciiru.
Watching her behind the wheel, you can tell she loves her job which makes her stand out from some of her male colleagues.
The single-mother says she is happy and contended despite the long-distance travels that often keep her away from her family.
“I will not deny that the pay is good. I have built my mum a big house at home and two of my girls ‘cleared University and are now working while my last-born sweetheart is almost done with high school. What more can I ask for?” she said.
However, her career has not come without a cost. Shiro says women truck drivers will find it hard maintaining a stable relationship due to the constant travels.
“I am a single mother and I am happy with that. I realized that I am always on the road and I will not have enough time with my husband so that is why I chose the life that I have right now,” the 47-year-old said.
Kiran Kiru Shah Director Swan Carriers describes her as one of the best and disciplined drivers. The company is planning to employ more women drivers and empower more ladies.
“At no point have we ever received any calls about Veronica getting involved in an accident or any serious incident. She is very disciplined and hardworking,” he commented.
Ciiru’s plan is to mentor more women interested in joining the truck driving profession.