LIBERIA: ArcelorMittal Versatile Heavy Duty Operator Urges Young Women to “Take Advantage”
Did you think heavy equipment operation is only a man’s field of work? It’s not.
An increasing number of women are entering the construction industry by filling heavy equipment operator roles.
Among operating engineers and other construction equipment operators at ArcelorMittal Liberia, a young woman with no marketable technical skill, Kou Paye, of Seykimpa, in Nimba County began work as an officer for a private security firm, keeping watch on facilities in Yekepa, Nimba County.
Though her private security job kept her afloat, determined Kou was deeply convinced that she had the potential to rise above her role at the time and develop herself for the future.
Engendering her insatiable thirst for self-advancement was the use of various demeaning words against her by some people she interacted with regularly.
“A person insulted me while I was on duty, and I felt so bad to continue to serve that post. So I asked my supervisors for a transfer and I was assigned at the mines, where I began to look out for opportunities to be trained as a driver,” Kou explained.
With the help of now Operational Training Superintendent Darlington Siaway, Kou began her driving lessons on a Volvo truck back in 2018.
Though it was a difficult transition and a challenging process, she could not afford to lose the opportunity to become a professional driver and persisted through all circumstances.
Today, Kou is one of two high-performing females operating the highly versatile and powerful Articulated Dump Trucks (ADT) hauling iron ore in the mines.
She underwent training in the ADT truck operations and passed all assessments, proving capable and competent to operate, and is now one of two females in a male-dominated team.
As our reporter observed her seatbelts fastened; she initiated the roaring start of a powerful Articulated Dump Truck (ADT) engine ready for motion at ArcelorMittal’s mine in Yekepa, a sight to behold for the ordinary, made even more astounding by a woman being the operator.
Observing her safety rules, operator Kou Paye engages the muddy road with care, onward to the mining pit for loading at Mount Gangra
“I am so proud to be among energetic men to showcase my professional driving skills as a woman. I came here with no skills, but with the help of ArcelorMittal, I was trained and got the skills to drive this truck,” Kou said.
The hardworking female heavy-duty operator is grateful to ArcelorMittal Liberia for providing the opportunity for her to learn how to drive the giant-sized truck which has added value and helped transformed her life.
“It takes a woman to move this truck and I want to thank ArcelorMittal for giving me the opportunity to be one of the operators. I also want to tell my fellow women out there to take advantage of the opportunity available to them to learn through ArcelorMittal. The opportunity is here; it only takes you the time to apply effort to get it. I am very proud and happy to operate this truck,” Kou excitedly expressed.
A few months ago, AML commissioned two driving simulators to train drivers for the ADT truck, and Kou was one of the beneficiaries of the training.
Upon seeing the truck, for the first time, she said fear gripped her to the point of self-defeat, but nevertheless, she braved the storm to undergo the training and upon completion, the fear withered away, and she gained the courage to operate.
“First, I was afraid to move the truck, but after going through the training, I became brave to operate it. Anything you know of you can do it without fear,” she added.
In the typical Liberian society, a certain occupation like operating ADTs, is perceived to be restricted for men, but she and others are breaking the glass ceiling by positively competing with their male counterparts.