By Seye Olumide and Emmanuel Badejo
DRESSED in their orange and white uniform, the 40 newly commissioned drivers of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA ) looked quite impressive.
One of them was 37 year-old Ikpana Betty a native of Cross Rivers State who could happens to be among the 40 newly employed refuse truck drivers, which the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) engaged last week.
“I am impressed and excited that despite the challenges of ethnicity at present, LAWMA is one body that is living above board.
“Secondly, I have been given the opportunity to prove that being a female may not be an obstacle and that gender equality which has been in focus across the world is receiving attention here in Lagos State.”
Married with two children , Ikpana Betty was a teacher before joining LAWMA few months ago and was sent to driving training before being finally engaged.
Another lady, 31 year-old Akwari Ayuba, is from Kaduna State and is also married with a baby.
While Ikpana was surprised that despite her not being a native of Lagos State she was still engaged by LAWMA, Akwari told The Guardian that with the security challenges the country is facing and the attacks in the north assumed to be specifically targeted against Southerners “My employment by LAWMA shows that it is very possible for Nigeria to remain united and that the citizens could still live peacefully anywhere.”
The youngest of all the newly employed lady truck drivers may well be Aisha Lawal who the Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello jokingly told to beware of men who may want to distract her in the cause of discharging her duties because of her beauty.
She once worked as secretary in Ojota and is at present taking a course at Lagos State Polytechnic.
According to her: “I had never driven a car before. It was a friend that introduced me and also encouraged me that I could do it . The friend told me there was nothing to be ashamed of in driving a refuse truck as a lady and I accepted.
“Now I am willing to discharge my duties to the best of my ability.”
But while disclosing some of the challenges that they usually face on the road, Aderohunmu Bukola who was a trader said: “People normally call us Iyawo governor meaning governor’s wives .
“Sometimes other road users show us kindness and commend us for having the courage to sit behind the wheel of a giant refuse truck.
“At times , some who are not happy with how we drove, particularly commercial bus drivers , will simply shout and abuse us.
“But part of our training is that we must not engage in any brawl with other road users. It is such an interesting job, although somehow tedious. There is the need to wake up early because we resume not later than 6 am everyday.”
Speaking during the commissioning, which took place at the Ogudu Office of LAWMA, Bello said the new crop of drivers demonstrate continuing determination of the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola to ensure effective refuse disposal, job creation and neatness of the state.
While encouraging the lady drivers to stand up to the challenges before them and take the job with all seriousness, Bello warned that “LAWMA, among all the agencies of government does not joke with discipline. It has to be so because the success of yesterday in refuse management count to nothing if there are lapses the following day.”
He also told the ladies never to allow the challenges on the job affect their homes
“It is important for you to know that whatever challenges you are going to encounter is also applicable to other women who are working in banks, media houses and the rest.
“The most important is to do your job and plan your life. May God bless and protect you all as you move onto the road to keep Lagos clean.”
On his part the Managing Director of LAWMA, Ayo Oresanya said the injection of the new skid trucks into the waste management task team would help in fast tracking the job being done by LAWMA personnel. He noted that many of the lady drivers are graduates, thus signifying women empowerment initiative.
He pleaded with Lagosians to cooperate with the ladies as they discharge their duties of ensuring that Lagos remains a clean and healthy state.
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