TRUCKING FOR A LIVING

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NOEL IYOMBWA writes

@SunZambian

TRUCK driving is considered a career for the older generation, but for Wales Phiri, he has broken the record in the international truck-driving career. Phiri does not drive any ordinary truck, but an oil tanker.

He started international truck driving at the age of 20 and since then he has been on the road after failing to pursue a career in biomedicine due to financial challenges. He spent a week in police cells in Zimbabwe for a traffic and says the conditions were bad and left him traumatized but is thankful that he was acquitted.

He has never had an accident and attributes this to discipline and hard work.

The Sun newspaper caught up with the driver, who explains his journey to becoming one of the youngest tanker drivers.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

My name is Wales Phiri. I was born on 25 December 1987. I’m the fourth born in a family of six. I started school at Mapepo Primary in Ndola in 1993 – 1999.

I then went to Chiwala Boys where I did my secondary school from 2000 to 2004. I went to Hillcrest Technical were I did my A levels in 2005. I then went to Germiston College in Johannesburg, South Africa were I started doing bio medical science.

My father is also an active truck driver, though he is about to retire after being on the road for many years.

I am happily married with three children.

WHEN DID YOU START DRIVING TRUCKS

I did my biomedical studies for only a year and half. I could not continue because of financial problems. My dad then had taught me how to drive trucks.

His plans were that when I start work I must raise money to go back to school. I started working for Kasembo Transport in 2008 as an international truck driver. I have been to over 11 countries including Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and all of Zambia’s neighboring countries.

I left Kasembo in 2011 and joined First Quantum Minerals as a low-bed “abnormal load” driver. In 2016, I joined Mount Meru Petroleum as a tanker driver.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE CAREER

It is a good job I cannot lie but the most painful thing is missing my family. As it is – my kids are practically growing up without a dad. It is painful.

MENTION ONE OF YOUR BEST MOMENTS IN YOUR CAREER

My happiest moment, was when I was awarded as the best truck driver by Mount Meru last year. I was very happy and honoured when I was selected as the best tanker driver. I did not see it coming.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER

My worst moment was when I was put in police custody in Zimbabwe for a traffic offence. I was there for almost a week until I went to court but fortunately enough I was acquitted. The one week I spent in custody was hell on earth.

DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO PURSUE YOUR DREAM CAREER

Yes, in the near future I plan to go back to school and pursue my dreams. I think it is not too late for me especially that I can now afford to pay my tuition fees.

HOW FIT ARE YOU? PHYSICAL FITNESS

I am fit and we do physicals all the time. I do not smoke but I am a moderate drinker and not on duty.

YOUR WORD OF ADVICE TO THE YOUNG GENERATION WHO THINK THIS CAREER IS FOR THE AGED

My advice to my fellow youths is that truck driving is not for old people but that it is just like any other career. You only need discipline because on the way you meet different vulnerable women who want to take advantage of you by riding on your truck free of charge.

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