Madam Theresa Wunbalin, 50, is the first female taxi driver in Kwara State. A native of Mbano local government of Imo State, she is married to a man from Gumbi in Adamawa State and is blessed with five children.
In her quest to challenge men, who are commercial drivers in Ilorin township, she got behind the wheels and now drives commuters to other parts of the country such as Niger, Abia, Kogi, Enugu, Osun among others. She spoke to Nigerian Pilot Saturday.
Madam Theresa, popularly called “Mama Blessing,” started the occupation five years ago. Before then, she sold Police kits comprising shoe, cap, belt, uniform among others. She later established a fashion design shop where she sold men’s wears including Agbada and Suits.
“Because of the desire to make more money, I stopped the trading and considered becoming a mechanic. I approached a renowned mechanic in the area to teach me how to repair cars, but he said I had to learn the work for six years. I figured that was too long for me and learned how to drive instead.”
She then got her car with the inscription, “GOD BLESS ALL WOMEN,” and got on the road plying Ilorin metropolis, later she graduated to driving long routes.
“My desire, aside earning a living, has been to do the type of work considered to be exclusively for men. That explains why I tried to be a mechanic earlier. I hate seeing women being chided as the weaker sex and dependent on men. I also believe in the dignity of labour, these facts prompted me to start commercial driving.
“It is better than debasing yourself like some women and young girls do by involving in commercial sex, while some women cherish spending their husbands’ money and leaving them when the money is no longer available. In my own case, I decided, with the approval of my husband, to take up this job.
“When I started, commuters were surprised while some were skeptical and would attempt coming down from the vehicle. After a while, I decided to change my style of dressing by wearing men’s clothing and using a face cap to disguise myself. Some commuters only know my gender when we get to our destination and I ask for my money. Gradually, I won their confidence.”
On her perception of male commercial drivers on the road, she said initially it was tough dealing with them. “As a female taxi driver, I got exposed to their behaviour, they would sometimes try to scare me by driving roughly and intimidating me on the road. They also spoke differently, you know the motor park ‘language,’but now am part of them and they accord me respect as a woman. At times they get angry that people prefer to patronise me, saying women were more careful drivers than men, especially during long trips.”
On a good day she makes between N8, 000 and N10, 000 daily and other days, about N4, 000 to N5, 000. This has not affected her duties as a mother and housewife. She cooks and takes care of her family and attends regular church service.
She however, urged government to assist her by way of recognition, to serve as encouragement to other women and the younger generation because idleness and unemployment wreaks havoc on the society.