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Meet Arewa’s first female trailer driver

What informed your decision to become the driver of a heavy duty vehicle? I’ve been noticing that women are into various trades and professions. Some…

What informed your decision to become the driver of a heavy duty vehicle?

I’ve been noticing that women are into various trades and professions. Some are pilots, taxi and bus drivers, but I’d never seen any woman driving trailers. My curiosity pushed me to try the profession. As it is, I have a passion for driving. So, driving heavy duty vehicles became a reality and I’ve been doing it for twelve years now.

How long did it take you to learn the trade?

Not too long. Before then, I was into business. I grew up in the palace of the Emir of Daura under the care of his wife, Hajiya Halima Bukar. When my wish to drive came up, and she heard my plan, she laughed. She asked if I was joking and I replied that I was not. She saw my seriousness and thought since it was unlikely for a man into transportation to buy a trailer and give it to woman driver, she assured me that one day she will make money available to buy one for me. When she was ready with the money, I went to Lagos all by myself and bought the vehicle and drove it all the way from Lagos to Kano, where they constructed its body. It was a ten-tyre truck, not a trailer.

As you’ve been driving heavy-duty vehicles for over twelve years, what kinds have you been driving?

A ten-tyre DAF truck, and now the trailer I currently drive.

Can you name places you have been as a driver?

They are many. I have been to many African countries with the ten-tyre truck. I have also been to Ghana and many other countries that have road links.

Have you ever encountered problems on the road – and in such cases how do you solve them?

Before becoming a driver, I’ve been aware of such situations. I normally pay keen attention and observe how such problems are solved. Therefore whenever there is any problem I use my experience to solve it. There was a time when my truck developed a mechanical problem and I tried my best to repair it. But if the problem is beyond my knowledge, I call and inform the company.

Some drivers were conductors. Did you pass the same process before becoming a driver?

No. What I know is that I stayed with my master, Mamuda, who is from Dutsen-Ma town in Katsina State. When I was into business, he was the one conveying my merchandise. With time, I leant how he drives. Mamuda observed and commented that I could become a good driver.

It was my curiosity that pushed me. Sometimes when we are together with Mamuda, he explains how the engine works or how to engage gear and so on. I can say it was through such that I learnt how to drive.

When you sat behind the wheel for the first time, how did you feel?

Honestly, the first day I mounted the wheel, my body shook. I thought it would not be possible. I drove from Funtua in Katsina State to Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State. It was such a long journey.

Are you married?

I married once, have two children. But now I am divorced.

When your kids want to become drivers like you, would you allow them?

Yes, because it is lucrative. I have benefitted a lot from it.

How do you run your schedule?

I drive anywhere in Nigeria. Tomorrow, by Allah’s grace I will drive to Numan, where our sugar factory is situated. I go wherever the company sends me.

With the deplorable conditions of Nigerian roads, how are you coping?

What can one do? One’s livelihood is on the bad roads. I ply the roads with caution and prayer.

Do you have conductors?

Yes. I have three conductors, two men and one woman and very soon she is going to start driving her own vehicle. She went through an interview recently, and by the grace of Allah, she is going to get her offer. I am the one who trained and encouraged her. I have confidence in her.

Do you get paid same as male drivers?

There is a difference between me and other male drivers. The men give me support and encouragement whenever we are on the road. For instance, whenever I have problem on the road, they do stay and offer help or advise me. In terms of remuneration, there is a difference because I receive higher allowances than they do as a policy of the company, which aims to encourage women.

If a suitor emerges on the condition that you drop your job, would you oblige?

Honestly, the issue of marriage is important. As a Muslim, I would not go contrary to religious obligations. If marriage demands I quit, by the grace of Allah, other women will follow the trail I have blazed. But I’m praying to Allah to give me a husband who will not stop me from practicing my profession.

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