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More women get behind the wheel as xe ôm drivers to make ends meet

Update: April, 24/2016 - 15:24
Illustrative Image. -- Photo

HCM CITY-- In HCM City, many foreign tourists enjoy a city tour by xe ôm (motorcycle taxi), a special service for local people mostly offered by poor men.

However, some women, with their faces completely covered by handkerchiefs, are now working as xe ôm drivers to earn a living. In fact they are no less competitive in the business than their male counterparts due to their carefulness, gentleness, as well as their lower prices.

Nga, a xe ôm driver in the rural district of Bình Chánh, said, “I just used to work as a housewife but when my husband, a xe ôm driver, passed away two years ago, I decided to use his old Honda motorbike and began my new job. I can earn more than VNĐ150,000 (US$6) a day, enough to support my family."

Nga said that most of her passengers are acquaintances. Sometimes she also drives strangers but only accepts women, old men and children. “I dare not drive young men,” she added. 

It is due to this reluctance to drive strangers that women drivers have fewer clients than men, so their income is also lower. Additionally, most women drivers are not strong enough to work the number of hours that their male counterparts do.

"I did many kinds of work such as sewing and selling newspapers and lottery tickets, but I couldn’t earn enough to support my two children. One day, my next-door neighbour paid me to drive her to a hospital in the downtown. After this experience, I started working as a xe ôm driver,” said Tạ, a resident of Tân Bình District, who has three years in driving.

Tạ says xe ôm driving is not too hard and allows her to earn her own living.

“I only drove women at first but now I’m more experienced at driving and accepts anyone as a passenger,” she added.

Apart from professional drivers like Nga and Tạ, there are other women who do the job as amateurs when they are free to supplement their incomes.

While working as drivers, these women may have to cope with a number of difficulties and unexpected situations.

They use very old vehicles because they have not money to buy a new one and also don’t want their bikes to be stolen. But the outdated bikes are often heavy and more difficult to ride than new models, making their work more tiring.

With roads becoming increasingly dirty and noisy and the other dangers involved, xe ôm women drivers will definitely have to maintain their courage to be able to continue with this type of work.--VNS


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