Ibadan is the New Lagos for Opay, Max.NG, Safeboda and Other Operators, But What Does the City Hold for Them?

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Ibadan
Ibadan

With Lagos state placing a ban on bikes across major parts of the state, major ride-hailing companies are trooping to Ibadan with their machines. The brown-roofed city is clearly a destination choice because of its population and relative proximity to Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.

The means of transportation for residents in Ibadan are primarily buses, motorcycles, tricycles, and taxis. Recently, Ugandan bike hailing operator, Safeboda, just launched in Ibadan. In 2019, Opay extended its operations to the city with Oride, and later added Ocar to the list.

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Lagos imposed a ban on motorcycle operators

Getting a bike ride to locations is very common among Ibadan residents, especially at periods when there are traffic jams. However, security concerns and the rate of accidents that happen as a result of reckless driving have been rife in the state. These two major concerns have been the point of focus for the Oyo state government.

With the government clearly stating that its regulation of the transportation sector will focus on security and safety, bike hailing operators that take those concerns into consideration can work in the state. This also reduces the probability of unfavorable policies cropping up in the sector at a future date.

What are the transport regulatory policies in Oyo state?

It appears that the only policy that has currently been put in place for the operation of bikes in the state is that of obtaining the rider’s personal details. Identification cards will thereafter be issued to every bike rider in the state by the government.

“In order to control crimes being associated with motorcyclists and the influx of commercial motorcyclists into Oyo State, the Government will, in due course, issue Riders’ Card to all registered commercial motorcyclists in the State.”

Oyo State’s Commissioner for Public Works, Infrastructure and Transport, Prof Raphael Afonja

In November 2019, Oyo state, through its Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA) held a training for the first batch of both corporate and commercial drivers in the state. The training focused on road safety, signs, rules and regulations as well as defensive driving all in a bid to improve safety in the state.

We are working to put the incidents of traffic accidents to the lowest degree and make the State a good example to others in the area of traffic regulation compliance and discipline.

Mogaji Akin Fagbemi , Chairman, OYRTMA

The hope is that the transport management agency would extend this training to bikers of the motorcycle-hailing companies by including them in subsequent batches. Bike hailing operators in the state therefore need to focus on safety of the passengers as well as riders.

It is unclear, however if the companies will be required to pay additional dues to the government asides the regular taxes. It is also unclear if there are unions whose dues they will be required to pay.

Major players in the state

In July 2019, Opay launched Oride in the city, with major discounts for people when they ordered rides from the platform. This saw many people leave the former method of flagging down bikes by the roadside, embracing the Opay super app instead.

Steadily, the discounts reduced until they disappeared. But by then, residents had already warmed up to the idea of having bikes come to where they were. Paying through the app and being able to report a rider when necessary are also parts of what has helped Ibadan residents adapt to the ride-hailing model.

About 7 months after Oride had been in operations in the city, Safboda launched in the city. The startup which already operates in Uganda and Kenya, finally arrived Nigeria, making the country its third market.

Safeboda’s model is very similar to that of Opay in the state, not due to replication but because it has operated the same model in its primary markets of Kenya and Uganda. Both startups didn’t come with their own bikes, choosing to simply onboard independent bike owners onto their app.

Within days of Safeboda’s launch in Ibadan, Max Ng revealed its presence in the city as well. Max already has a presence in Lagos, although it has been very much reduced as a result of the ban on motorbikes in certain areas by the Lagos state government.

Currently, Opay has the most share of passengers in the ride-hailing sector. This is primarily because it got there first and operated a monopoly for 6 months during which time it has imprinted itself into the hearts of residents. However, with the new competition offering very similar services, innovation will be much needed to keep holding its huge share.

Perhaps one of the factors that may tip the scales in Max’s favor is the fact that it issues its own branded bikes to the riders. This is very different from Safeboda and Oride. The bikes, couples with Max’s reputation in Lagos, may help pull some more customers, especially because of the many complaints passengers have had when riding with Oride.

Safeboda, on its end, has been stealthily working its way into the hearts of the city by leveraging on events largely attended by youths in the city. Last December, it was a part of the Chocparty that took place in the city.

Oride is already experiencing a bump in its demands. Going forward, however, it will come down to affordability, quality, and the experience of people who use ride-hailing to get from place to place.


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