Kwale women crush stones for a living - Daily Nation

Tough job for women in Kwale crushing stones for a living

Thursday January 24 2019

Women crush stones in Kwale

Women crush stones at a quarry in Majengo Mapya village in Lunga Lunga town, Kwale county. They depend on this job to fend for their families. PHOTO | SAMUEL BAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BAYA SAMUEL
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By FADHILI FREDRICK
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The sun always shines hot in the dusty town of Lunga Lunga in Kwale County, almost making life unbearable, but residents have to do all they can to make a living.

Amid the hot weather, a group of women in the town are busy crushing stones into gravel in order to earn a living.

These women have broken away from the norm and are working in quarries to eke out a living from this trade, despite it being a tough job.

DEMANDING JOB

This demanding job used to be a preserve of men but with the high cost of living coupled with the tough economic times, women had also to do it.

The quarry is found about a kilometre off Lunga Lunga-Likoni highway and is located in Majengo Mapya suburb.

There are few modern houses surrounding the suburb.

Men are always busy extracting rocks from underground, others transport them to the surface while others break them into smaller pieces.

It might look like an easy job but looking at the heaps of ballast waiting for potential buyers, it is evident that a lot of energy is used for the work to be done.

Here, women crush huge stones and rocks into ballast which they sell to builders.

Majengo Mapya quarry in Lunga Lunga.

Some of the men who excavate stones at the Majengo Mapya quarry in Lunga Lunga. Women then crush the stones into ballast. PHOTO | SAMUEL BAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

EARNING A LIVING

Daily Nation recently talked to some of the women who narrated how they ventured into this business.

Dzame Mrina, who is among the six women we found at the quarry, said that is the only way for her to earn a living.

Together with the other women, she has been turning up every morning at this quarry to crush stones despite the risks of falling rocks and harassment from men.

"It is a tough job but of course one has to persevere to earn something for the family. It is not a rosy affair,” she said.

Pointing at a newly-built house adjacent to the quarry, Ms Masudi showed said it was a result of their hard work as they provided materials for its construction.

WAITING FOR BUYERS

She crushes between 15 and 20 buckets a day, and piles up the ballast as she waits for buyers. Sometimes it takes weeks before a customer comes to buy the crushed stones.

"I have done this job for almost 14 years now. It’s not so lucrative but I thank God I can feed my family," she said.

Another woman, Nadzua Mwero, 40, said she joined other women at the quarry three months ago after quitting her job as a house help which she had done for over 20 years.

Despite the many dangers the women face as they extract and crush, none of them wears protective gear.

Ms Mwero says breaking stones into ballast is a hard task but she is happy for it has brought some change in her life.

Nadzua Mwero

Nadzua Mwero, one of the women crushing stones for a living at Majengo Mapya quarry in Lunga Lunga. PHOTO | SAMUEL BAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

BENEFITS

"I have worked as a house help for 20 years but I did not get any tangible benefits like what I am getting now. I now have money to feed and educate my family," she said, adding that through the job, she is helping her son put up a permanent house.

Ms Mwero further said they use small sized jerricans to quantify the ballast which is sold at Sh20.

To fill a canter lorry, one needs 200 such jerricans and earns Sh4,000.

UNITY

She attributed their success at the quarry to the unity among them, saying that whenever a customer comes, they all sell the material to him.

But behind the success of these women are men who excavate the stones.

Idd Kassim Mwabega, 50, has been excavating stones from different quarries in the Lunga Lunga for the last 14 years.

Mr Mwabega says it is a tiresome job and that caution is needed to avoid injury.

He said he has been feeding and educating family by working in quarries.

"This job has helped me to look after my family and I have educated my children, two of whom recently finished secondary education while one is in college," he said.