It is not difficult to spot her in a small crowed of drivers owing to her charm.
Rose Muthoni is the iron lady behind the wheels of one of the biggest passenger buses in town.
The 35-year-old works for Githurai 45’s Unified Sacco as a bus driver. Here she has worked for the past three years, steering a 52-passenger capacity bus, that’s quite some load.
Muthoni is currently the only woman steering passengers along Thika road. She is also Nairobi’s first woman to drive the large-capacity buses.
Other women, especially in the matatu sector, often handle the 45 seater buses and below. She says hopping into an area perceived as men-only and triumphing should give impetus women to take up challenges claimed are men’s occupation.
“I was confident while taking up this challenge. But at first many felt I was not qualified enough to drive ‘high voltage’ buses. It took unrelenting coercing to be assigned these big buses. Today, fellow male drivers respect me and so passengers save for curious looks I get from them, especially female passengers,” says Muthoni.
Her job however doesn’t come with challenges.
In one case, an expectant mother left the driver’s cabin in a huff to seat at the back on realising Muthoni was the one to steer ‘the beast’.
“On reaching Githurai 45, the same woman came to me, apologised and said she was excited I was able to handle such a giant vehicle,” says Muthoni.
At times she spends sleepless nights away from home, cat-and-mouse games with law enforcers, stubborn passengers and working with conked-out vehicles.
“I have been stranded in Kitui with church faithful for two days. And just last week I spent an entire night in my bus at Roysambu after it broke down. Discipline, sacrifice and perseverance is the rule of game in matatu industry,” she says.
Muthoni started off with Huruma route matatus, Dandora and Eastleigh where she shifted to minibuses, then upgraded to bigger buses under Double M Sacco.
She also worked also bus for Neno Evangelism Centre, Kenya Breweries and Virgin Tours Company.