‘Uber refused to be Categorized as a Transport Operator’- Ekocab CEO Accuses Uber of Spurring New Ride-hailing Regulation
Following the announcement that e-hailing startup, Ekocab had partnered with the Lagos State government to launch a car-hailing service, EkoCab CEO, Segun Cole has come out to shed light on his involvement with the government.
Addressing the partnership deal with the government, cole clarified in a series of tweets that the company wasn’t owned by the government or any powerful individual in the government.
However, he affirmed that he did a bit of lobbying with the regulators, an act which, as he stated, isn’t illegal.
Ride-hailing regulation in Lagos
Recall that we reported a few weeks ago that the Lagos state government was cracking down on Uber and other ride-hailing startups in the state. The State claimed that the drivers on the ride-hailing platform didn’t have the required accreditations like the hackney permit to do business in the state.
However, Cole has come forward with his version of the story which chronicles the woes of ride-hailing startups in the state. Cole revealed that the refusal of the be categorized as a transport operator made the government look for other ways to bring them under the state’s tax structure.
Cole disclosed that he was one of the policy consultants that advised the government on regulating the industry
I have been a policy consultant on New Mobility to State Governments. Advising them on how to better Regulate the Industry and proffering solutions.Segun Cole, CEO of Ekocab
e-hailing platform for yellow taxi
Due to the rising growth and expansion of ride-hailing startups in the state, the other players like the yellow taxi complained about their diminishing income.
According to Cole, the consultants advised the government to tell other players in the transport sector to develop their own tech. they also told the regulators to draft guidelines regulating all digital apps.
However, developing an app could be pretty expensive. Cole revealed that was why he offered to build the app and onboard players who couldn’t afford to develop their own app.
Ekocab has trained 100 drivers
Apart from creating an app, Ekocab trained about 100 drivers who had vehicles that met Ekocab standard (Safety, comfort, AC etc). The startup also carried our Culture Re-orientation for those drivers with a view of making them more professional.
However, more than 80% of yellow cabs in the state are without AC. This raises the questions on Ekocab model of onboarding Lagos yellow cabs as most of the cabs don’t meet their stated requirements.
Going beyond the Uber model
According to Cole, Ekocab’s model is a step beyond Uber’s model as the startup provides offerings for both local and private Cars.
He also highlighted that their 12% commission per trip is the lowest charge per trip. Uber charges between 20-30% commission per trip.
Last year, Ekocab announced that it was launching in September. However, Cole recently pointed out that the proposed launch was actually a pilot phase which was successful.
He further clarified that the original launch date for the app is March 17th and his team is working to make sure demand met supply. We, however, noticed that although Cole claims that the startup successfully ran pilot tests around Surulere last year, the app has just 5 downloads on play store as at press time.
Ekocab a company ‘for Nigerians by Nigerians’
Unlike Bolt and Uber, Ekocab is an indigenous startup. According, to Cole the company was started and has been operating without funds from investors whom he generally described as ‘demon investors’.
This (Ekocab) has been bootstrapped with our money and sweat. We haven’t had a dime from any Investors. We did this on purpose, demon Investors everywhere.Segun Cole, CEO of Ekocab
He also added that they intend to show what Nigerian companies can offer when placed next to foreign companies with large pockets.
However, appeal to local sentiments have never made a good business. To show what it’s capable of, Ekocab would have to compete and offer equal if not better quality service than Uber and Bolt if Lagosians are to take it seriously. Unless of course, it intends to enjoy the unfair advantage it could get if the proposed government levies on Uber and Bolt eventually kick in.
Future expansion plan
Similar to Uber’s diversification into different aspects of transportation, Cole has revealed that Ekocab plans to expand into verticals like boats, EV logistics and food delivery services.
He also said that the name of the startup may change to reflect its corporate vision. So, names like Ekoboat and Ekofood may sprout up in the future.
Lagos ride-hailing woes
Speaking on the sour turn of events for ride-hailing companies in the state, Cole said the company played no part in the ban.
I understand people are angry about the whole Okada ban, but my company has nothing to do with this. Heck, I used this Apps. I can barely survive without them.Segun Cole, CEO of Ekocab
Cole added that he went as far as engaging the government to overturn the ban and leverage on regulations as an alternative.
I am not against Uber and Bolt or Opay, the road is Big enough (We all contribute to congestion though) I wish every player the best.Segun Cole, CEO of Ekocab
However, Cole accepted that he took advantage of the timing of Uber and Bolt’s current regulatory problems to launch the startup.
I have been involved in every Stakeholders engagement with the Government. This has nothing to do with any clampdown on Uber/Bolt. I took advantage of the timing like any Business person would do. Bolt/Uber, heck even Fahim Saleh of GoKada are my friends.Segun Cole, CEO of Ekocab
Giving Lagos regulator mobility data
Ekocab, through its partnership with the Lagos state government, is going to provide board regulators with a dashboard to better track commuters traffic patterns to help solve traffic problems.
According to cole, data generated by the company is first for Lagosians before Ekocab.
The Data that’s generated is done on Lagos Infrastructure and first belongs to Lagosians before its Ekocab or any companys. This is Our Mission.Segun Cole, CEO of Ekocab
However, the company also plans to sell mobility data as well as share relevant traffic data with their drivers.
Ekocab is working to bring all micro-mobility players together. According to cole, Ekocab is a Future African Mobility Lab. However, with all the big players already in the ride-hailing market, only time will tell if Ekocab can achieve all their plans and carve out a significant piece of the market for themselves.
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