More jogging/trekking for commuters in Lagos as govt tackles Uber drivers
More jogging/trekking for commuters in Lagos as govt tackles Uber drivers
More jogging/trekking for commuters in Lagos as govt tackles Uber drivers
A power bike being seized by a policeman.
• Gokada branches into delivery, boat services after okada ban
• Forceful retirement of youths from streets without alternative is security risk, says NAPS
AS commuters in Nigeria’s commercial city, Lagos, these are trying times. Weeks ago, the Lagos State government announced a restriction on the operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in 15 local councils.

Motorcycles and tricycles – popularly called okada and keke respectively – not only provide quick getaways from the maddening gridlock the city is cursed with every day, but they are also the only reliable means of transportation for hundreds of thousands of residents to move to and from workplaces and navigate the inner streets of the overpopulated state.The restriction, which came into effect on February 1, was not the sort of New Year gift residents looked forward to. Already, okada riders have clashed twice this week with the police in the Lagos suburbs of Ijora and Iyana Ipaja. Eyewitnesses said four persons, including a schoolgirl, were killed in those clashes.

New Headache
The situation may become direr for commuters as government agents are ready to beam their searchlight on Uber drivers. An official of the Lagos State Vehicle Investigation Service told The Guardian on Thursday that the state has started enforcing necessary laws on the drivers on ride-hailing platforms such as Uber. “My car was impounded last week and I was asked to pay N60,000 into the government’s account before it could be released to me,” said Simon Ndubuokwu.

Ndubuokwu was not the only Uber driver whose car was impounded. He and his colleagues were given a bit of a breather when the fine was slashed to N30,000. But they cannot operate until they meet the government’s demands.

Idris Edu, an official of the Lagos Vehicle Inspection Services told newsmen that commercial vehicle drivers and those on Uber and other ride-hailing platforms must be certified by the Lagos Drivers’ Institute before they can operate in the state. Moreover, drivers on ride-hailing platforms must have hackney permits. This means they have to change their vehicle registration to commercial.

Another official of the VIS said Uber has also not paid an operator license fee to the state government. “You need to have what we call operator license, which Uber was supposed to pay to the government,” the official said in a telephone conversation with an Uber driver. Newsmen has a record of that phone conversation. “Uber has no operator license.”

Where is Uber?
The official of the VIS insisted that Uber was aware of all the requirements needed by the drivers, including the hackney permit. Some of the drivers, whose cars were impounded, have already paid the N30,000 fine and have taken receipt of their vehicles.“Uber sent us a message last Friday that they were closing the office. Since then, the office has not been opened,” an exasperated Ndubuokwu said. “That is not fair. You cannot call them except if you go to the office or contact them through the app.”

The message sent to the drivers said the Lagos Greenlight Hub would be closed on January 31. The message said support for drivers would be rendered via or the app.

But Uber’s head of communications in West Africa Efosa Aiyevbomwan said in an emailed statement that the Nigerian office was reopened on Tuesday contrary to what Ndubuisi said.Aiyevbomwan said, “Uber continues to work closely with all relevant stakeholders in Lagos to ensure that our operations align with best practices locally and internationally, whilst also ensuring that drivers continue to earn a living and riders are able to move from point A to B, comfortably and conveniently, at the touch of a button.”

Meanwhile, following the ban on Okada in 15 local councils, Gokada has announced plans to go into delivery and scale boat services to Tech Cabal. Announcing the company’s plans, the CEO, Fahim Saleh, said: “We are pivoting to deliveries while transport gets figured out. We were always going to do deliveries and had started to develop the tech for it, but this ban accelerated the process.”

During the telephone conversation, Saleh also revealed that a Gokada boat service will launch anytime in February, or “real soon. One 24-passenger boat just came in, and another is sitting at the port waiting to be cleared from customs.” This news comes after reports that the firm had laid off over 50 per cent of its staff just days after the ban.

The president of National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS), Activist Sunday Asuku, has condemned the sudden ban of okada and Keke Marwa in Lagos. The president in a statement said: ‘’It is wicked, inhumane and barbaric to suddenly place a ban on bikes and Marwa without any reasonable and viable alternative at a time when insecurity, unemployment, online fraudsters, abduction, kidnapping and banditry are on the high side, forcefully retiring these hustlers from the streets without providing a viable alternative will further endanger the peace of the state.”

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