IT IS not a common sight to see a woman driving a big bus — a public bus, none the least.
But for RapidKL bus driver Faridha Begham, driving a bus around the city is part and parcel of her everyday life.
In spite of working in a male-dominated industry, she believes she performs as good as the male drivers.
While other women are contented with regular office jobs, she chose to take on a physically demanding job.
“In the beginning I felt nervous driving a bus, but if I can do it, other women can do it too,” she said.
With a determined look in her eyes, she carefully manoeuvred the bus through a tight alley.
“I have always loved driving,” said the mother of six who was previously a lorry driver.
The Sentul-based driver knows 15 bus routes by heart.
“Instead of sticking to one familiar route, I like to switch between different routes,” she said.
Long hours and a tedious work schedule is just part of her job requirements.
“For morning shifts, we report to the office at 4.45am as the earliest bus operation starts at 6am. For the night shift, working hours may sometimes extend into the wee hours of the morning.
“Once, the bus broke down at midnight. By the time help arrived, it was one in the morning,” she said.
Bad weather and road conditions also add to the job’s risks and perils.
“Some residential roads are narrow and almost impossible for a bus to pass through, but we have to navigate the bus through as it is part of the route,” said Faridha.
She also has to deal with passengers of different ages, backgrounds and personalities.
“For public bus drivers, patience is crucial as the work involves unexpected situations where we are at the front line,” she said.
She said she was thankful that her husband and children were understanding and supportive of her passion for her career.
“They do not complain or make a fuss when I am not home early because they know that my job is unpredictable,” said Faridha.
For Ampang Line LRT driver Norhayati Zawawi, the toughest part of the job is ensuring the safety of the people in the train.
“As a train driver, I hold a huge responsibility for the lives of thousands of people,” she said.
Her small frame may pose as a challenge when it comes to handling a heavy train, but she confidently and expertly pushes the various buttons to set the train in motion.
If the train breaks down, she has to perform a complicated procedure called ‘coupling’, which involves hooking the faulty train with another train.
“I once had to carry out ‘coupling’ in the rain and I struggled with the heavy equipment. But thankfully, I managed to complete the procedure,” she said.
Recently married, Norhayati admits it is not easy to juggle between family and her job, but she is thankful for the support from her husband and colleagues.
“I encourage women to take on a challenging job and not let anything stop them from pursuing their dreams,” she said.