Ruth Chelimo: Meet The Only Female Matatu Driver In Eldoret

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At 27 years old,  Ruth Chelimo has worn many hats, each one a stepping stone on her path to carving out a life for herself and her family.

The barriers to education stood tall before Chelimo, forcing her academic journey to reach a premature end at form two due to a lack of school fees.

Undeterred, she ventured into the world of work, taking on a myriad of roles that spanned from a house help to a construction worker, a waitress, and even a tout.

Each occupation, though distinct, bore the fingerprints of her unwavering determination.

The male-dominated matatu business in Eldoret did not intimidate Chelimo.

Proudly plying the Eldoret-Huruma route, she defied the norms and stood out not just as a woman in a man’s world but as a driver who exuded professionalism.

Her commitment to cleanliness and adherence to a uniform while on duty further set her apart from the multitude of drivers in the region.

Working in an industry notorious for its rough and rowdy image, Chelimo found allies among her male colleagues who offered support and camaraderie. Her transition from a tout to a licensed matatu driver didn’t come easy, but her rare focus and commitment were recognized by her colleagues, including Njogu, her conductor.

“She came here as a tout but she has been able to be licensed as a driver ahead of me because of rare focus and commitment to achieve her desires in whatever she does,” said Njogu, the conductor of the matatu she drives.

Chelimo’s daily schedule, starting at 5 pm and concluding around 10 pm.

Despite the challenges she faces from passengers, it’s her male colleagues who have stood by her, creating a supportive environment that defies the stereotypes associated with the matatu industry.

However, the reality for Chelimo isn’t without its share of difficulties. The passengers, rather than the male-dominated industry itself, pose the primary challenges. Instances of passengers attempting to send fares directly to her personal phone number rather than using the provided till number highlight the unwarranted advances she endures.

Furthermore, some passengers insist on sitting next to her in the front seat, behaving inappropriately by touching her.

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