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Motorcycle-Taxi Hailing startup Max – among the league of bike hailing startups in Lagos began a campaign rally on Friday, 30th January 2020 against the move by the Lagos State government led by Governor Sanwo-olu banning the activities of commercial motorcycles, popularly called Okada, and tricycles, known as Keke Napep, in some Local Government Areas, bridges, and highways in the city of Lagos.

Gokada - Max - OPay riders on peaceful protest

Gokada, Max, OPay riders on peaceful demonstration

Recall that weeks ago, the State Government directed security operatives to embark on total enforcement of the State’s Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 on the affected six Local Government Areas, nine Local Council Development Areas and 10 major highways across the State with effect from February 1.

This ban implies that Opay(the Bike rides) and Gokada, including the majority Tricycle owners, are affected.

On Thursday, 29th of January 2020, one Temitope Adefisoye a supposed Gokada or Max Rider took to change.org to begin a petition to the Executive Governor of Lagos State, and as at Friday, the petition has gathered over 4,000 signatures.

According to Temitope the reason why he is raising this petition is quoted below;

“I represent those lives who are about to be thrown into confusion and uncertainty about the future, along with their families and dependants.

On the 27th of January, 2020 the Lagos State government declared a ban on commercial motorcycles. I received this news with panic and fear because I know what this means to my life.

Before I joined Gokada, I had no future. I grew up as an orphan in Ajegunle where I lived with my widow grandmother with my siblings. She barely made enough from her fruit sales to feed all of us and I often had to do odd jobs like mixing concrete from the age of 10. I was very brilliant but could not finish secondary school because of money.

Today I have three children who I value more than my life. Two years ago, things became tough when I lost my job as a factory worker and one day their mother didn’t come home. Until now, we have not set eyes on her. Things became so hard that I thought about killing myself many, many times.

In June 2019, my childhood friend Bolaji told me about Gokada and after going through all their tests, I passed. In my first week of work, I made over 30,000 naira as profit. One week! I have never experienced such in my life. It was like somebody just transferred me from hell into heaven. My children are all in school now and I also have little savings for the first time since I can remember.

We are as concerned as the government on the issue of safety and security. Me and my fellow riders at Gokada, MAX and other formal bike-hailing companies have been trained to ride safely and only few people pass the rigorous tests to join as riders. We are all fully equipped with protective gear and our riders rarely break the rules. Thousands of us will be rendered useless if this ban is implemented.

We want the Lagos State government to regulate the bike transport sector and be very strict with offenders. This will separate the wheat from the chaff and prevent sorrow and loss to competent bike riders and the good people of Lagos who know that time wasted is money lost.”

Whether you like it or not, to an extent; it seems like these start-ups are making more social impact than the fear of security and safety by the Lagos State government.

The average Nigerian in a city like Lagos would agree to the not-so-sweet-experience spending hours in traffic; with the help of these bike hailing startups, passengers are able to maneuver their way in between the gridlock to meet their daily and timely targets.

This seems to be the reason why users are joining hands to support the campaign by Temitope for the resolve by the government to basically improve regulatory frameworks than outright banning in the transport system in Lagos especially with focus on the bikes.

Ayotunde Ikulamberu, a user after signing the petition said: “I’m signing this because the Government didn’t think through this decision. It should be rescinded…”

Nigeria social media channels are not let out, as Nigeria Twitter users had a varying opinion to share about this ban.

You would recall that, some time ago, Gokada provided sets of bikes and helmets to the “Secure Lagos” initiative which was supposed to be an indication to commitment in the safety of Lagos by the company.

Now that these times are here, would the founders of these startups push for a collaborative compromise in their negotiations with the Lagos State government seeing the amount of investment money that has gone down in their aggregated series of fund raising activities? Or is this the end for these start-ups?

Or do you think the Lagos State government would simply watch thousands of Riders leave their jobs? What better regulations do you think would be a better framework for the security and safety issues concerning commercial bikes and tricycles?

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About Author

Owen Shedrack is an entrepreneur and astute writer. He reports and contributes for TechCultureNG on start-ups, tech and ecosystem intelligence. He sits as founder, and Executive Director at “The Groth Innovation Centre” – a business incubator and innovation hub providing professional business support services for SMEs.

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