A total of 51 Zoom Captains who are recruited female drivers of heavy duty trucks on Friday, September 10, 2021, successfully passed out at the Armed Forces Supplies and Transport Training School (FATS), Burma Camp at 37 in Accra.
The recruits, who are persons with basic school qualifications, are all females who are known by the mother company, Zoomlion Ghana Limited, as Zoom Captains.
The ZL Diversity Proramme was birthed by Zoomlion, with the idea of training women alongside the companyâ€™s male drivers of heavy duty trucks who collect refuse across the length and breadth of the country.
The novel programme has been running for the past four months, and it has the objective of empowering women to venture into areas predominantly seen as male professions.
The training commenced on 26th May, 2021, with an initial 60 females.
Originally, it was supposed to last for 11 weeks, but had to be extended by another 4 weeks because there were a few driving lessons that needed to be taught the participants.
Speaking at the ceremony at the auditorium of the Defence Empty Battalion, the Commanding Officer of the FATS, Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Gyeman Amoako,
charged the participants to put into practice the knowledge and skill they have acquired as well as all that they have been taught.
â€œAnd it is also my hope that when they get out there, they will be given the opportunity to handle and operate these vehicles because they have all the competencies to do so,â€ he said.
However, he recommended that the new female heavy duty truck drivers should be attached to the companyâ€™s male heavy duty trucksâ€™ drivers who were already out there.
This, he said, will enable the new drivers to be conversant with the operations of the heavy duty vehicles.
â€œOnce they are confident they have acclimatised themselves with these particular vehicles then they will be given the opportunity to operate,â€ he noted.
According to Lt. Col. Gyeman Amoako, it was agreed that an initial number of 50 ladies will be assembled to commence training.
â€œAnd accordingly from the 26th of May, 60 ladies arrived in the school to begin the programme.â€
â€¦After about a week of medical screening and declaration of results, 51 out of the number  were chosen to continue the programme. I must say these were ladies who had no knowledge at all in driving, and within the time frame, were to be transformed from ground zero to heavy duty drivers,â€ he disclosed.
With the help of instructors, he said, the trainees were taught from the scratch how to move a vehicle from rest, changing of gears, steering control, road signs, road manners and ethics among several topics and skills.
He said by the end of the 5th week, most of the participants had become conversant with the operations of the one-ton vehicle, hence were migrated onto the 5-ton vehicle.
The migration onto the 5-ton vehicle, Lt. Col. Gyeman Amoako pointed out, came with a new challenge.
He explained that this was because apart from the weight of the vehicle, participants had to be introduced to the hydraulics systems, which are a major feature of heavy duty trucks.
â€œBy the end of the 8th week, we had identified a good number of the participants who had the potential of further being migrated onto the 8th truck. We, therefore, further had to build their competencies, by improving upon their confidence in order to master them to handle these vehicles as a result of the weight.
At this stage, he said, the eleven weeks training period agreed upon had elapsed.
However, he indicated that this made them to negotiate for an additional four weeks to enable the school introduce and teach the participants how to drive these heavy duty trucks, stressing that â€œby and large this objective was achieved.â€
Lt. Col. Gyeman Amoako proudly stated that almost all the participants were in a position to operate heavy duty vehicles.
â€œI am also happy to note that in collaboration with the DVLA, the school has managed to acquire for all the 51 participants license B upon which they will systematically be migrated to the license C, D in due course.â€
However, he said, they encountered a few challenges in the course of the programme.
But added that â€œdespite these challenges we managed to sail through the process effectively.â€
â€¦We would have wished to have more vehicles than we had. As a result of the limited number of vehicles we had, contact number of hours for participants were somewhat reduced. If we had had more vehicles we could have further master the participants.â€ That notwithstanding, he asserted that they managed to achieve their goal.
The commanding officer of FATS expressed the schoolâ€™s appreciation to JGC for making them a part of their training programme.
He concluded by stating â€œI am very confident that the purpose for which these participants were put together and brought here to be trained has been achieved.â€
The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Environment and Sanitation Cluster of the Jospong Group of Companies (JGC), Mrs. Florence Larbi congratulated the female heavy duty truck drivers for going through a successful 14-weeks training in heavy duty truck driving.
She said these were street sweepers who had no idea in driving, saying â€œtoday they have been trained to drive heavy duty trucks of the company.â€
She maintained that it has always been the vision of the Executive Chairman of JGC, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, to empower women through such job opportunities.
â€œWe have about 2,000 drivers in the company, and we hope next year, 60 more ladies will also have the same opportunity to become heavy duty truck drivers,â€ she said.
â€œWe have a policy of encouraging women to engage in predominantly male professions,â€ she noted.