It is not until I drink alcohol or smoke weeds that I can deal with troublesome passengers, the truth is that naturally I am fit and ready for any such situation,” a woman named Olabisi Adekoya tells of her ability to deal with the struggles of being a female bus conductor in Lagos.
She is a rarity as far as the profession goes and it wasn’t by her choosing. As a widow, she has had to saddle the responsibility of playing the dual role of being a mother and father to three children. A tough occupation but one which she has managed with strength.
Adekoya discusses her encounter in the crime prone city of Lagos as well as some uncourteous advances from men in an interview published by Punch News on Saturday, February 24, 2018. Her new life came following the death of husband, Sumbo.
“This job came to me at the lowest point in my life, by accident in fact,” says 33-year-old Adekoya who regularly had to part with her kids as early as 03:30 AM on a daily basis.
“On a particular day, I was going to Oworonsoki to visit someone who promised to get me a job and the bus I boarded didn’t have a conductor. I volunteered to assist the driver to collect fares from passengers.
“The way I coordinated the bus really impressed the driver who later asked if I had had knowledge of the job or if I would love to work with him.
I told him I didn’t have any knowledge of the job and that I wasn’t interested in that type of work as a woman. He told me to take his number in case I changed my mind. I grudgingly took it down.
“So, after some days and efforts to lay hands on any of the jobs I had expected, a few people encouraged me not to be shy and take the conductor job if the man was still in need of one. Even when I called the man and he told me to come and work with him, I didn’t plan to do this for long.
“At that time, I was just desperate to provide food for my children, raise some money and start petty trading. But here I am, still in the job after over five years.
I have worked with different drivers and vehicle owners, taking each day as it comes,” Adekoya who has had to deal with passenger harassment as what goes with the territory in the male dominated occupation of being a bus conductor.
Entitled and mean Lagos ‘Agberos’ are on the list of her daily challenge but she has put up good defense against these odds.
She longs for the old days when being a conductor was rewarding and inspired politeness from customers as opposed to what currently obtains.
Harassment from crazy passengers, male and female, is one of the biggest problems we face in this job “Apart from passengers, ‘agberos’ are also another group that makes life difficult for us.
“But it wasn’t like that in the past. Those days, passengers would tell us to keep their balance, gift us fabric materials and even shoes just to appreciate and encourage us for the work we do. But that has changed now.
“As a matter of fact, there are different types of passengers and it requires wisdom to be able to deal with them especially being a woman because there are some who would tell you that even though they have money, they will not pay because Nigeria belongs to every one of us.
“There are others who would even tell us we’re crazy for daring to ask them for money when male conductors don’t try such with them. On several occasions, we drag it out with such passengers just to let them know that we cannot be intimidated because we are women.
If it requires fight, we give it to them,” Adekoya who has been a pillar of protection for driver and colleague told Punch News.
Some sachet enclosed gin and puffs of ‘Ganja’ a local slang for Indian Hemp, make up part of her arsenal for the craziness that has welcomed her occupation.
She is not the only female who has ventured in a business stereotyped by men. Young female mechanic explains how she got into profession
Despite receiving condemnation and discouragement from her peers, a young female motorcycle mechanic, Chidinma Clement, never gave up a pursuit of her interest as she seems not to be able to function in other fields.
In a chat with sources, the final year student of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abia State, revealed that she ventured into auto-repair work at the age of 13, thanks to the influence of her father, Obinwanne Clement who gave her all the skills she needed to become a celebrated machinist.
The attention received by the undergraduate began in December 2017, when her viral images circulated the internet making her a sensation among her circle and far beyond.
This life changing encounter offered her the opportunity to meet the governor of her state, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, while attending a women summit.