Amina Ibrahim: Kano’s female tricyclist changing narratives | Dailytrust

Amina Ibrahim: Kano’s female tricyclist changing narratives

Malama Amina Ibrahim
Malama Amina Ibrahim

In a male-dominated business of tricycle riding, 38-year-old Malama Amina Ibrahim, popularly known as Sai Mama, is making a name for herself and earning additional income for her family in Kano state. The mother of eight shares her experience with Daily Trust.

Married to a husband who has been a tricyclist for 15 years, Malama Amina Ibrahim has always had an eye for riding the three-wheeler (popularly called Keke or Keke NAPEP) that is used primarily as the means of transportation in Kano state.

Like several other cities that have outlawed the use of motorcycle for commercial purpose yet with little or no provision for a mass transit system, the ubiquitous tricycle is the alternative.

Her husband, she said was among the first set of tricyclists empowered by the Malam Ibrahim Shekarau administration between 2003 and 2010.

“Since then, I became interested in the business and that is why I paid much attention whenever my husband drives me,” she said.

She sometimes asks her husband about some of the technicalities involved in riding the tricycle and when he asks her why she is so eager in knowing these things, she’ll simply say “just like that.”

One day, she decided to put to test all she has been ‘learning’ from her husband and it was not even a planned graduation but that which is best described as circumstantial.

“I did not start tricycle riding until recently. There was a day my husband came back home and I asked him to go and buy me a drug from a chemist. He told me that he was so tired and I asked him to give me the key (for the tricycle),” she recalled with a smile on her face.

He thought she was joking and handed over the key to her.  “I went out and drove the tricycle,” she said, adding that it was her children that ran inside to inform their father that she’s driving the tricycle.

“He quickly came out but he was late as I have gone far. When I returned home, I met my husband standing outside. As I parked, he quickly came to me and asked how I managed to drive it. I just laughed”, she narrated.

The other time she drove was more daring.

“I drove the riding from our house in Sheka to my sister’s house at Dorayi. He was so surprised.”

When she told her husband she would like to join the business, he agreed and took her to the Tricycle Operators Association’s (TOKAN) office to register.

“I met with the chairman, Alhaji Sani Sa’isu Dankoli. He asked me to a test drive. He was amazed. He finally captured my data and other things. I am now a fully registered member of TOKAN.”

How she runs the business

Malama Amina told Daily Trust that she currently shares the same tricycle with her husband and that they have come to an arrangement where he drives from morning till afternoon and she takes over from 4pm to 8pm.

“And I drive women only”, she said, adding that “If you see men in my machine they must be my relatives or people that are impressed with what I am doing. They normally ask me to drive them for them to take pictures and videos.”

Challenges in this male-dominated business

She said so far it has been a good endeavour and she does not really have any major challenge.

“I am always security conscious. I don’t have issues with KAROTA (Kano Road and Traffic Agency) because I drive carefully not like other NAPEP drivers; even though I learnt that in NAPEP driving one has to be rough sometimes.

“My colleagues are always ready to assist me whenever I encounter any problem. There was a time I had a problem with my tyre, one guy stopped and assisted me. Another time I ran out of petrol, one of them went to a nearby filling station and got it for me and he did not even wait to collect his money back. And from the passengers and passers-by, I receive cash gifts from them. Alhamdulillah with the business.”

Her ambition for the business

Malama Amina hopes more women will be inspired with what she is doing and become self-reliant.

“I want to see more women in the business, because it is not meant for the men only. Women can also do it. Women are our major passengers; they can also be comfortable if they know the drivers are their counterparts. I am ready to coach any interested woman in the business.

“I am using this medium to call on my fellow women to come out and be self-reliant. You know these days life is becoming difficult for people, we really need to support our family. If women become self-reliant, the issue of failing marriages would be reduced.”

She also appealed for support from the government and individuals with the means to subsidize the price of the tricycle for them.

“You know with the present situation, we are now paying N20, 000 as a weekly balance which is too much for us. So we want the government to come to our aid and empower us with the tricycles so that more women can join the business”, she appealed.

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