From cleaner to bulldozer operator: Zambian women shatter stereotypes in road construction


BREAKING Barriers at 92 Kilometers per hour In the male-dominated world of road construction, two Zambian women are defying expectations and paving their own paths. 

Sandra Mwiinde and Buumba Hing’andu, once far removed from heavy machinery, are now skilled bulldozer operators, proving that dreams and determination know no gender barriers.

Five years ago, a single mother of two, Mwiinde, was cleaning workshops at the Zambia National Service (ZNS) in Choma Southern Zambia. However, her ambition yearned for more.

Her desire was never to be that lady in heels running up and down with some files and an apple laptop. No! She imagined herself in Timberland steel toe boots, clad in a full work suit and helmet while controlling a bull dozer.

Inspired by seeing women expertly control heavy machinery, Four years down the line, under Choma ZNS Land Development Branch (LDB), Mwiinde’s time finally arrived when she started  learning operations of heavy machinery as civilian staff. 

This Journey landed her behind the wheels of a bulldozer, reconstructing the Kazungula-Shesheke road.

Overcoming initial fear, Mwiinde found encouragement from her male colleagues. “They’ve been very supportive,” she says, attributing her acceptance and comfort to their guidance.

Juggling motherhood with her demanding job, Mwiinde dedicates early mornings and evenings to her children, ensuring their well-being even as she conquers the construction site.

To women hesitant to venture beyond traditional roles, Mwiinde offers a powerful message: “Nothing is impossible. I was scared too, but now I’m okay. They just need confidence. Everything is possible if you give it your all.”

Her eyes set on the future, Mwiinde aims to become a multi-purpose operator, mastering even more heavy machinery.

Kalemba met Mwiinde on duty in Southern Province as one of the ZNS personnels working on the reconstruction and maintenance of the 92 KM stretch Kazungula to Shesheke road.

But she was not the only female behind those “big machines” 29 year old Hing’andu, shared Mwiinde’s path with their passion interlocking like a song verse to it’s chorus.

Hing’andu  highlighted her dedication to the job, noting that for her work begins at 6:00 hours and ends by 17:00 hours, demanding commitment and hard work.

These women are shining examples of breaking stereotypes and challenging traditional gender roles within the construction industry. 

Their stories inspire others to pursue their dreams, regardless of societal expectations.

By Buumba Mwitumwa 

Kalemba February 19, 2024


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