Today is the beginning of Gokada’s temporary operation shutdown. Twitter is abuzz with apologies from the company and complaints from the users, even though the halt of activities was announced earlier. The bike-hailing startup has decided to take some time to address issues with its mobile application before getting its two-wheelers back on the road for Lagosians.
The shutdown is being facilitated by the firm’s CEO Fahim Saleh, who narrated in a Medium blog post his ordeal using a GoKada ride from Victoria Island to the mainland bridge. Trying to get the rider to his location turned out to be a bigger problem than beating traffic, as it took nearly 30 minutes before he could land a ride.
“I opened the Gokada app, requested, got a pilot, and waited patiently for him to arrive. I called to confirm my location, which the pilot said he knew. 5 minutes pass by.. and the pilot had not moved. Another 5 minutes pass, and the pilot was going in the wrong direction.
After 15 minutes and three phone calls, the pilot finally arrived at which point I’m thinking it might have been faster to take a car all the way through. Upon questioning the pilot, I learned that he didn’t use GPS on his phone because the earplugs he had were broken. Irritated, I motioned him to get started with the ride as I was in a hurry”.
But that was not the end of the ride-hailing glitch for Saleh, as it seemed covering a 10-15 minute journey was taking forever. Apparently, the pilot took a longer route, when he could have used to map to get one faster and more convenient.
I motioned that I would direct him based on the Google Maps navigation. Unfortunately, just as we were about to reach the bridge I directed the pilot to a wrong turn which would have required us to turn all the way around. At this point, it was obvious that a car would have been much faster even with all the traffic.
Long story cut short, GoKada CEO had to take an Uber. GoKada riders seemingly have troubles using Google Maps, which leads them to take longer routes when faster options are available. According to him, he was disappointed in the company and specifically disappointed in himself. There is no telling what the users of the service experience daily on the traffic-ridden Lagos roads.
“It’s not easy criticizing your own company. But either I could ignore these issues and move along happily like everything was fine. Or I could realize that this kind of thing is happening to our customers thousands of times over. I am not ok with that. Gokada was started to change the perception of what the bike taxi could be in terms of safety, convenience, and transparency”.
Going forward, the company will re-train all its pilots, especially on how to smartly and effectively use Google Maps. Saleh says we should also expect brand new bikes, higher safety measures, and happier drivers – under what he calls the GoKada 2.0 Initiative. Considering the fact that the company’s war chest of USD 5.3 Mn is still within reach, the issues should get solved within the said time frame.