Following recent reports that suggested bike-hailing companies are in talks with the Lagos State government to return bike-hailing to the state, Gokada CEO, Fahim Saleh has revealed neither he nor his company is aware of such discussion.
Reports made the round in recent days that the Lagos government may be on the verge of recalling the bike-hailing startups it let go following the proscription of their activities in February.
The report was built around a comment attributed to contemporary Oride’s Director of Growth, Osagie Alonge.
“We never stopped discussions, we never stopped engaging as regards the government even before the ban came. We’ve never told ourselves it’s not going to happen, I guess that’s why those conversations are still going down because we are hopeful, that one time or one day the government will actually give room for an alternative means of transportation within the city,”Mr Alonge is reported to have said…
Fahim Saleh told TechNext that he knows nothing about such a conversation. When quizzed about the development, Fahim indicated that such talks are unlikely given the current circumstances.
With the current lockdown? There may be ongoing talks but since lockdown, we haven’t participated in any.Fahim Saleh, Gokada CEO
If there are any talks, he expressed the possibility that it may have been initiated by Opay’s Oride, certainly not himself or anybody else within his company.
Saleh, however, confirmed the initial comment of his company’s media executive, Odion Aleobua who insisted that the lockdown made it impossible to confirm such a story.
Lagos remains the best ‘prospect’ for bike-hailing firms
Bike-hailing in Lagos began from rather small beginnings when Max.NG launched in 2015. It began first as a logistics company delivering goods to people before expanding into transport. Gokada would later join in 2017.
But the bike-hailing industry in Lagos didn’t really come to life until Opay’s Oride joined the fray in 2019. Riding on the back of a $50 million war chest, the company flooded the roads of Lagos with its unmistakable bikes and invaded social media timelines with adverts and job vacancies.
To put the icing on the cake, its fares were almost too sweet to be true although TechNext‘s investigation would later reveal that it was its drivers bearing the brunt of the incredibly cheap fares. With Opay dropping the gauntlet, Max and Gokada quickly picked it up and the competition that followed could only be rivalled by the competition in the fintech space.
But that won’t last long as the Lagos government brought an abrupt end to this promising industry with a bike ban in February.
The bike-hailing companies have since either pivoted to other businesses or relocated to other states, thus ending what was a short but nonetheless exhilarating rivalry at the time.
But before its abrupt prescription, bike-hailing was already becoming something of contemporary culture for tech-savvy young Nigerians. It probably became more popular than Uber and Taxify because commuting through a busy city like Lagos with its endemic traffic problem, speed and convenience are of utmost priority.
Possibility of a comeback…
In March, former Lagos State transport consultant and founder of Eko Cab, Segun Cole told TechNext in an interview that lobbying and discussions are still ongoing with the aim of bringing back bike-hailing.
We are still engaging the regulators to bring bike-sharing and bike-hailing back. As recently as yesterday, we are still engaging regulators to bring these things back. Technology is here to stay.Segun Cole
This largely supports Osagie Alonge’s assertion that discussions are still ongoing. It also explains Oride’s hopefulness that the issue with the government would be resolved and bike-hailing would be back in business in Lagos.
However, from the regulator’s point of view, there hasn’t been much to call. Maybe after the government is done dealing with the COVID-19 situation, it would find time for a bike-hailing comeback. But for now, we wait.
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