Fatima has been driving trains for the past four years, although her male counterparts had chided that her ambition to become a train driver would not last more than a year. But she would not allow the industry’s inherent gender bias to deter her.
Fatima’s inspiration of becoming a train driver started from age 12 in Ilorin, kwara State, while having a walk with her grandfather. Fascinated by the length and snaky look of a passing train, she asked her grandfather, “Grandpapa, what is that?” Her grandfather told her it was a big car. She told her granddad there and then that she would be a train driver in the future. He chuckled.
Providence had it that after secondary school she became a domestic staff of China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC). When she gained admission into a higher institution, she faced the dilemma of giving time to her studies and her work, which ran concomitantly. She was later given the concession of going to school during the morning hours and resuming work during the evening hours.
When she realized later on that CCECC is a company that majorly constructs rail tracks and maintains trains in Nigeria, her dream of becoming a train driver reignited. Fatima made her desire known to her bosses, and they offered to train her.
Her joy of being a train driver is borne from the fact that people look up to her with the lens of high respect, even among her male counterparts, much more from females.
Fatima’s challenge is time management, which is typical of rail transportation. She sees vast opportunities in rail transportation in Nigeria as the country is expanding its rail infrastructure.
Based on that, Fatima dreams of training at least 100 young girls to become train drivers to partake of the vast potential of Nigeria’s rail industry. She also dreams of becoming the best train driver in the world.
She encourages young ladies to ignore naysayers who will discourage them in the beginning, adding that the future is bright for young women like her who will just give it a try.
No doubt, that 12-year-old girl walking with her grandfather in Ilorin has already made history. SHE IS NIGERIA’S FIRST FEMALE TRAIN DRIVER.