THE LIFE OF A MOTO TAXI WOMAN

There are not many Moto taxi women.  This industry is still dominated by men and for various other reasons like security which makes it difficult for women to venture in.  But one Eunice Nyambura, it is what feeds her family and keeps the memories of her late husband alive.

With Covid and the world lockdown, the social media use has overly increased.  It is our social place, chat, get informed, meet people, exchange ideas and learn new things.  We have seen an increase in dedicated groups that are geared to either gender, business, travel or offering information on various subjects.  One such group that grew from a handful number of people to hundreds of people in just a few days is Africa’s Leading Ladies  

Created on 22nd June 2020 today it has a total of 290,000 members and still growing.  In this group, women invite each other and share stories from career, education, entrepreneurship with intentions of supporting each other.   I met Eunice here and I was simply fascinated by her story.  He story is one of dedication, commitment and focus and one that needs to be shared with a larger audience.

Eunice Nyambura, her full name is a 26 years old lady.  Born in Dagoretti ( Nairobi).  I was brought up by my grandmother. I was told my mom passed away when I was 5 years but I have no recollection of her.  I  grew up knowing my grandmother was my mother until later in life. She tells me. I finished  high school  in 2012 and got married in 2014. Unfortunately I lost my husband in the year 2017, leaving me with our now six years old son who lights up my world.

RIDING CAREER

“When I started, the male riders in my location did not take me seriously, they thought I would not last in the business because they believed it is very hard for a woman.”

When did you start riding and what drew you to riding motorcycles? Did you have an encounter with bikes before ?

My late husband was a motorcycle rider in the Boda Boda (moto taxi) business.  He trained me how to ride soon after we got married. I was a stay at home mom and so not active in daily riding.  It is when he passed away that I took up the full time riding and joined the Boda Boda industry.  He was the sole bread winner and without him, I had to fed for my son and myself.

Why did you decide to take up Boda Boda riding?

This is what my husband did for a living and so I had learned a lot from him. I had learned how to ride the motorcycle and I knew how the business was operated.  This together with the support from my family made it easy for me to start off.  When it comes to work, the most important for me is that I enjoy what am doing and it gives me an income.  Boda Boda riding has been both.

What is your experience being a lady boda boda in a male dominated industry?  Did you receive support from the fellow male riders?

When I started, the male riders in my location did not take me seriously, they thought I would not last in the business because they believed it is very hard for a woman.  They however accepted me easily in their team more so because they were curious about how a woman Boda Boda would perform.  I have been a Boda Boda rider since 2017 and I have proved them wrong. They are now my biggest support system as I go about my business.

Do you choose gender for your clients or you pillion both men and women? How is that when you are riding especially if pillioning a man?

When I started, I was not confident in pillioning men but with time I became confident and comfortable.  I don’t choose my pillions, I take both men and women.  I however have incidents where some male client will make snide remarks such as “they are in love with me”, which is obviously very uncomfortable.  Once a clients does this, I am not comfortable to pillion them in future and refer them to the male riders.

How do customers receive you?  Are there some who feel less confident to take your service because they think men are better riders and are you the only woman rider in the area?

In the beginning, I felt rejected. Most men had no confidence in using my services. Today that has changed.  I am the only woman Boda Boda in my area and most customers now trust me more than they trust my male counterparts.  Those who meet me for the first time are usually skeptical but after one ride, they always ask for my contacts and become my regular clients. Then there are those who are adamant they would not take a Boda Boda ridden by a woman but they make a very small number.

Where are you located and what is the nature of terrains and riding conditions you are mostly exposed to (for example off road, tarmac, mix of both, narrow roads, low traffic roads or heavy traffic road)?

Am based at Kasarani – Mwiki.  I am very confident in my riding skills, I ride anywhere regardless of the road terrains and condition.

What are the challenges you experience in the industry as a woman boda boda? 

My biggest challenge is when male clients don’t respect me and start making advances to me. If such a client makes a come back I always decline and refer them to the male riders.  I don’t like loosing clients but I am not comfortable with this kind of  behaviors and so I let go. The other challenge is those who say they can not take a woman rider.  However, there are definitely some advantages of being a woman rider.  I have noted that most people trust me and feel more comfortable with me and those are the majority which is good for my business.

RIDING GEAR & BIKE

“Most of our clients, actually I would say all have refused to wear the helmet due to the Corona Pandemic.”

Riding gear is very expensive in Kenya and there is very few options available for women.  How was it shopping for your gear and did you manager to find everything? 

It was important for me to start off with the basics.    I have two helmets, one for my clients, a jacket and gloves.  I am still saving for my boots and knee guards.

How are you handling the hygiene of the helmet during this corona time? 

Most of our clients, actually I would say all have refused to wear the helmet due to the Corona Pandemic as the helmets are shared between clients who are unknown to each other. We have accepted to pillion passengers without helmets because we cannot afford many helmets to allow us clean, sanitize frequently and dry them for use. If we were to wait until the helmets dry with every customer, we would not make any money.  The more the clients the better for us. There are also other costs like petrol and maintenance of the motorcycles.  I use a 150 cc Boxer motorcycle. The consumption of fuel is not high but I have regular maintenance costs of about Kshs 3,000 for service every 2,500 kms.  There are other expenses that are not frequent but I always have to save up for when I need to. Things like buying new tyres, chain etc.

I asked Eunice what are the overall challenges experienced by all Boda Boda riders and what support she would like to see given to the industry and this is what she had to say.

We have a number of challenges as Boda Boda riders ranging from access to driving licenses, insurance covers (both medical and motorcycles), security and growing our business.  Some of these can be solved with technology while others are guidance and facilitation.  Majority of the riders are self taught and it would be good if they would be facilitated with getting the legal driving licenses.  Insurance companies shy away from insuring our motorcycles due to nature of our business.  In addition, we would like to see the NHIF (National Hospital Insurance Fund) make better products for motorcycle riders.  It is an industry that is prone to accidents and injuries and the available packages are not ultimately favorable for the industry.  It is also almost impossible for us to access financing.  It is either too expensive or majority of us don’t meet the minimum requirements threshold. Security is also a big concern. Today if you have not build a reliable clients base, you must be willing to spend more time at the stage (base).  Sometimes you are there early in the morning or late in the evenings which is not safe.

Eunice can be reached on Tel: +254 707 675998 for Moto taxi or deliveries of any kind. 

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