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Women garbage drivers

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Women garbage drivers

In the heart of Nigeria’s’ bustling capital Lagos, only very few female drivers dare brave the unforgiving traffic and perhaps social consequence to drive garbage trucks. Adeshina Adedeji writes

 

Been bold, active, courageous, skillful, and diligent are not enough words to qualify these women drivers of the Lagos State Waste Authority Management (LAWMA).
Driven by force of circumstance perhaps, many of these women have really proven themselves to their immediate environment and the world at large that, they have ceased to be relegated to the bedroom, labour and kitchen. They are now productive, innovative, composed, educated and even courageous to venture into any activities or occupation that men are best known for.
As far as they are concerned, they believe they have all the necessary requirements and abilities to function well in the society and in the country while pulling the race of doing anything even better than their counterparts do.
Adejumobi Adijat, one of the female drivers, married with five children, has been driving the LAWMA truck since 2013 with same energy and enthusiasm. According to her, she started with sweeping the streets of Lagos when all hope of survival seemed blank for her. Luckily, she said her friend introduced her to it and upon starting with them, she has never had course to regret it.
Adijat said: “I was motivated by other women driving vehicles. I longed for and was eager to learn it. So when the opportunity showed up, I just had to utilise it effectively and I learned for 2months because I had been working with LAWMA.
“ I became a LAWMA driver as a result of the then managing director looking out for ladies who are bold and can drive in order to train them and that’s how she showed interest in me.”
However, Adijat was lucky with friends and family members around. She told New Telegraph that she enjoyed the support of husband, family and friends. “My husband, who is into furniture is not having any problem with me doing such job. He told me that anything decent that generate income is worth it. He said it is better for me to be a LAWMA bus driver than sitting at home or stealing,” she said.
Kemi Oladapo, who is popularly called Iya Kemi among her colleagues exude satisfaction, contentment and happiness all over her. In a 35-minute ride with her, Oladapo exuded pride and sense of dignity in labour. To her credit, she got an award from the Lagos State government as one of the best drivers LAWMA ever produced. She said she was given a brand new.
A successful LAWMA driver, hardworking, diligent and happy with what she’s doing for a living, Iya Kemi, mother of three children has been working with LAWMA for more than nine years and been driving the dirt truck seven years.
According to Oladapo, she ventured into driving because of the opportunity that showed up through the then managing director of LAWMA, Mr. Orekoya, who insisted that women should also be trained as drivers of LAWMA buses. “All thanks to the former Managing director of LAWMA, because without him, I would not have known how to handle the steering today. At that time Mr. Orekoya announced the training of drivers to all interested women working at LAWMA, I showed interest and that was how I was among the first set of drivers that were trained.
What drove Oladapo into Lawma in the first place was hardship as a result of the death of her husband. “After I lost my husband, life became very difficult for me and the children. I was doing so many jobs just to make sure I survive with my family but Mr. Azeez, my husband’s friend helped me in securing this Lawma job and ever since, I became a proud bread winner of my family. I don’t have to beg before I could myself and children.
Iya Kemi is happier with her job because she enjoyed her children, family members and friends support on the job. “Any way, any time, even in my dirty uniform, my children identify with me. They are even proud to introduce me to their friends,” she said.
However, there is no job without its hazard. But some of the female drivers who spoke with New Telegraph said they chose not to see it because the joy and satisfaction in it is more than the obstacles.
Mrs. Oyewole, another driver said some people in the society see them as outcast who is desperate for existence, “They see us as if we are not humans, while some are always amaze seeing us. Sometimes, we get harassment from Union members and street touts trying to scare us at,” she said. Although, their take home pay is not capable of meeting their needs, after removing transportation fare and feeding daily, they are still happy with the job, according to Oyewole.
What kept Oyewole on her feet is the respect she is enjoying among her families, friends and associates. She said that, “it is good to work in diligence and be discipline in whatever one is doing. “I do resume by 6:00am and close by 7pm daily.
Oyewole, who is married with two children-15 and 13 years old, and has been driving the dirt truck for five years running, pleaded with the state government not to stop assisting women. “Women are more useful to the society, community and country than just been relegated to the kitchen and bedroom,” she said.
According to her, her child introduced her to the job. She said, “It started with my first child,18years, whose turn it was to pack dirt in school, he called me to come and help them pack the dirt in his school, I did and from there, my eyes opened to the job.”
Speaking further, she said, “I am happy because I am able to feed my children and feel good driving alongside men on major roads. One day a commercial bus driver attempted to overtake me on the service lane, but I did not give him the chance to do that for some minutes. When he later caught-up with me, he looked at me and said ‘No wonder, it’s a woman behind the wheel’ and his passengers laughed. There was this young lady in the bus and she gave me a thumbs-up. It felt good, I must say.”
Nevertheless, many of the women are still interested in doing other businesses as many of them are still not satisfied, because they believe they are not fulfilled as a bus driver.
According to Aisha Adewale, also a bus driver, said, “I am still not doing what I love to do, I believe I am still doing someone else’s job and I will love to later engage myself more into doing business because that is what I really want to do.”
She urges the state government to get them buses of their own which they can always make gradual payment. This, she said will boost their strength and income because the salary is not enough for them due to their basic needs.
Female truck drivers started after the Lagos state government announced the employment of 70 women as truck drivers as part of the efforts to empower women in the state and in relation of keeping the metropolis clean.

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