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Encounter with deltaís unique female vulcaniser.

Dominic Okonta
20/08/2008

When the Public Relations Officer attached to the office of the Delta State Deputy-Governor, Mr. Augustine Okwuolisa informed the Sunday POINTER about the activities of a female vulcanizer, described as the first and only practicing female vulcanizer in the state, we thought he was joking.

That was until we met and interviewed her in Asaba. When we finally spoke with Mrs. Ifeyinwa Pius, the 32-year old was a bag of wonders. Widowed, the vulcanizer is a proud mother of five children and a secondary school certificate holder.

She hails from Utchi community in the Ndokwa East local government area of Delta state. Mrs. Ifeyinwa told the The POINTER how she abandoned her hair salon business to be a vulcanizer, for which she trained and retrained herself for four months.

She revealed her uncommon love for handling trailer tyres. Excerpts: Madam, please how did it all start? Oh, (she smiles) it all started the very day I first visited my late husband who was a vulcanizer in his office, I mean this particular store, by Benin-Asaba Expressway opposite B. Division Police, Asaba shopping complex.

You mean, you started operating immediately as a vulcanizer No, I mean I developed interest in the job; you see whenever I brought food for him I always watched him with keen interest. At a time, he opened a hair dressing salon for me in Asaba which I abandoned.

Why? The answer is simple, and that is I didnít love it. Rather, I preferred to work as a vulcanizer which my husband would not allow me, at the time, to practice fully. So after his death, instead of selling his tools, you inherited them, is that so?

Quite right, I immediately resumed operations after his burial, to the astonishment of the public. What about your family and other relatives, did they welcome it? Of course not, especially my biological relations who roundly condemned the idea, describing it as shameful. But since they could not assist me financially I happily continued with the job. I can see giant tyres lying down here, waiting for attention, how do you handle them too?

Oh, I enjoy working on trailer tyres and tubeless tyres. Iím aware that they are difficult to handle, but I handle them with less stress because I have known the technique of handling them. How did you gain such experience?

Apart from the knowledge I acquired from my husband, I was compelled to train and retrain myself for four months where I learnt a lot. I can handle any tyre now. What was the reaction of the public at your first appearance at your workshop? People who saw me expressed surprise, and generally encouraged me while a few urged me to abandon the job and go and trade on vegetables in the market. But at the end, I refused to comply with their suggestion because of the joy I get doing the job. And how is the business? Itís okay.

Through it, I pay my house rent, my childrenís school fees and get feeding money. You see, I donít like to borrow or seek for assistance from anybody, so in order to survive, I do the job well. What is the behaviour of male vulcanizers?

Oh, they are very friendly. In fact, they always encourage me and have indeed appointed me as a member of the committee that will be visiting the State Commissioner of Police soon. What are your challenges? Funds, I need money to buy more equipment, especially the modern ones. Some of the ones Iím using are not only outdated but badly shaped. With enough funds to buy better equipment, I can touch the sky. I therefore, plead with the state government, especially, the officials in charge of the mircro-credit scheme, to help me out.

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