By Sajid Bajeer
These are hard-working women of Tharparkar district in Sindh province of Pakistan who are going to become dump truck drivers very soon. These women are already used to rough routine tasks of fetching water from deep wells, farm work and unending nomadic movement.
A successful candidate for the job of dump truck driver, Marai Lond told Pak Voices that Thar women are playing their part in the development of the area. They will work shoulder to shoulder with men to make the mission successful.
“If you look at the daily tasks of the courageous Thar women, they are never easier than men’s tasks. In spite of that, they face many difficulties, when they move out of their homes,” she explained.
The Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company has selected 30 women to drive dumpers loaded with soil, dug out as a result of excavation. As a joint venture of Sindh government and Engro Coal Mining Company, work is under progress on Block 2 of Thar Coal Project. Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corrdidor (CPEC) plan, 300-megawatt electric power would be generated in the first phase of Thar Coal Project.
It’s worth noting that there are no professional drivers in the Tharparkar and it’s considered an unusual job in the male-dominated district. The air-conditioned heavy dump trucks are used to dump away wastes from the work sites.
Seeta Kumari, the instructor selected to train the female dump truck drivers, told Pak Voices that the Thar women are accustomed to hard labor. “However this is totally a new task. A Thar women has never driven a simple car let alone heavy vehicle like dumper. And their task includes loading from deep ditches and dump on the desert mounds, which is even tougher”.
“This is a dangerous job but now, when we have this opportunity, we can’t lag behind from anyone and we will make it possible.”
According to the plan, the selected ladies’ training will start from the 1st of August. After a year of training these women will dump away the excavated sand from mine sites. According to Engro administration, they received 70 applications for the jobs of dumper drivers and 30 of them have been selected after scrutiny.
There are a lot of Chinese nationals working on the Thar project under CPEC project and they have taken responsibility for training these women too.
The trainees in Female Dump Truck Driver Program will be paid 15000 rupees per month during training. Besides that, there is a plan underway to employ their husbands as well in the project. This is the first project in the country, where women will handle the harsher task of dumping the sand from the mine depths and will be trained by the women too.
Operations manager of the Thar Coal Block 2 Project, Murtaza Rizvi told Pak Voices that right at the start of the project it was decided that the maximum job opportunities will be offered to the local people. “First we have trained the Thari Young men and they are already doing the job. Then we contacted the local people and convinced them to persuade their women to get training for the job”.
This is the first and pilot project to use coal to produce the electric power. Once it is successful, work more blocks will be started to use the billions of tons of Thar coal.
Sajid Bajeer is working with PakVoices as a citizen journalist from Tharparkar.
Translated by Tariq Mahmood