Two Kenyan women have hit the headlines after reports that they will become Kenya’s first females to steer locomotives upon completion of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
Wendy Kathambi, 26, and Alice Mugure, 27, are among five other Kenyan women who will be on the rail steering the locomotives.
They were sponsored by China Road & Bridges Corporation (CRBC), the SGR contractor, to undertake a railway course at China’s Baoji Railway Technical College.
So far, the two ladies have steered passengers trains at the speed of 105 km/h on the railway during the inaugural test-drive last month.
The duo drove the train from Nairobi South passenger train station all the way to Sultan Hamoud and back.
It is expected that with the full operationalization of the new railway line, the two can drive at a speed of 120 km/h.
Mugure before the sponsorship had studied procurement before taking a Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Language and Culture.
It is then that the SGR project came along and she decided to give it a shot.
“After completing the procurement course, I undertook a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Culture. The course entailed a six-month session in Kenya and one year in China. I was later hired by a Chinese firm as a translator at the Railway Training Institute (RTI). It was while there that I learnt of the SGR training programme and enrolled for the course,” said Mugure.
She said her entry to a male dominated job sector dispels the notion that there are jobs only men can perform better in.
Kathambi on her part studied electrical engineering. But she enrolled for the SGR training programme which to her; is an ultimate feeling of career fulfillment.
“This is what gives me satisfaction after developing an interest in new technology as far as railway development is concerned. It is a pretty new field and Kenya does not have adequate manpower to drive the rail transport,” observed Kathambi.
Three-year training is the minimum requirement for one to qualify to operate a passenger train.
Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina says he his happy with the progress of the Kenyan ladies who have undergone training in China to become the country’s first female locomotive drivers.