At 72, former City Council driver ready to hit the road again; with Uber

Rosemary Wanja during the interview in Dagoretti South, Nairobi, on June 13, 2024.
 


Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • At 72, Rosemary Wanja, a retired driver, actively seeks work to maintain independence.
  • Despite her age, she remains energetic, utilising various skills from driving to cooking, while advocating against age discrimination in employment. 

Rosemary Wanja trained as a driver in the 1980s and got a job at the department of public health in the defunct Nairobi City Council.

Throughout her working period (1982-2011), she loved and enjoyed her work, which came with the bonus of travelling and driving in foreign countries.

“I'm exposed. I know how to drive in countries like US,” says a delightful 72-year-old Rosemary.

She misses her job though and wishes to get an opportunity that utilises her driving skills.

“The fact that I’m retired does not mean I’m tired. I'm still strong and very ready to work. If I get a job as an Uber driver, I’ll gladly do it and my customers will enjoy my rides,” she says.

From her gratuity, Rosemary bought land but the money wasn't enough to complete her house.

“I desperately need money to finish my house,” she says.

Presently, she lives in a rental house in Nairobi and manages to pay rent by cooking pilau in weddings, parties, and church or women group meetings.

She also weaves table mats and baskets for sell.

“I'm still energetic. But soon I'll not have the energy to work and that's why I’m utilising my skills to earn and save so that I can finish building my house,” she says.

“I’d save the rent I’m currently paying to sustain myself since I don't want to depend on my children. They also have their own needs. I don't want to be a bother to them.”

From her earnings, she saves in a table banking group and in a few years she hopes to have set aside enough to borrow and complete her house.

She says no one should discriminate women on the basis of age as being elderly doesn't mean “being useless and unproductive.”

In some cases, the elderly women are exploited economically yet they deserve pay commensurate to the value of work done, she says.

“Being elderly does not mean our professional skills diminish. The experience we have meets the standards of a pay equivalent to the services rendered,” she notes.