The Nigerian bike-hailing sector has had its fair share of ups and downs. The drama shows it is yet to end as Lagos’ GoKada riders are still working on the streets, ignoring the temporary shutdown of operations.
At the beginning of the week, the ride-hailing firm’s CEO, Fahim Saleh, announced the temporary suspension of the company’s on-the-road activities to address the issues customers experience with the phone app.
For as long as can be remembered, Lagosians have laid many complaints about the mobile application, chief of which is the reality that the pilots never use it. In what seems like a final revelation of the company’s problems all along, GoKada riders are still working on Lagos roads, paying deaf ears to their CEO’s call for retraining.
Notoriety is not new to this set of GoKada’s employees. Per series of tweeted complaints by users of the service, using the mobile app is often a wild goose chase. Either the riders do not arrive for pickup on time or do not arrive at all.
Reports have it that they choose when and when not to embark on trips on the grounds that destination areas are not favorable, when in fact they are most times. Also worthy of mention is the exorbitant prices they slam on users, a far cry compared to what would have been charged had they used the platform.
Some users have also complained that the riders refuse to take them to their destinations because of traffic. That’s ironic to hear considering that one of the company’s core missions is to help Lagosians beat traffic by taking easier and shorter routes regular taxis and minibusses often cannot.
GoKada CEO himself pointed out that getting from Victoria Island to the Third Mainland bridge took longer than usual because of pickup delay and lack of accurate navigation skills on the part of the pilot.
These actions are not new to the African bike-hailing industry. December last year, riders on Uganda’s SafeBoda platform reportedly switched off their app amidst coming under serious fire. The banter which started and ended on Twitter too, came as a result of internal issues.
During the same time, passengers could see riders in vicinities but will be told that none of them were close once hailed. In some cases, passengers who approached riders were backed off when they want to use the pairing button on the app.
SafeBoda pilots also refused to use the app altogether. Rather than helping customers use their SafeBoda credit, they demanded for cash sums that are little or well above the normal rates.
Coupling similar incidences in Lagos, including users not being able to pay with their cards, it’s evident that one of the main problems of ride-hailing firms is their riders. According to the tweet below, there is a flaw with the okada-hailing model, and it’s with the riders rather than the companies.
It is believed that these riders take longer routes so they can charge more, rather than taking shortcuts for users to pay normal rates. A drama in semblance to this occurred in Uganda in September last year, when SafeBoda users were being overcharged.
“Dear Customers, over the last couple of weeks, you may have experienced a trip overcharge on the app. We are happy to inform you that this has now been fixed & apologize for any inconvenience caused,” SafeBoda wrote on their social media platforms.
Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after GoKada hit the pause on operations, it was reported by Nairametrics that the temporary shutdown was, behind the scenes, as a result of targeted poaching of some of its riders and senior executives by the new player, ORide. In what seems like a dramatic takeover for the Opera-founded company, even Max.ng and Jumia dispatch riders are going over to where the grass is greener.
These bike-hailing firms need to do something about their apps’ issues and their complaint-rained drivers. If anything, they need to do because of the hot competition going on in the space. Another reason is to satisfy their customers and actually solve the issues they are out to address. These drawbacks are perhaps part of the reasons SafeBoda and Egypt’s Swvl are skeptical about expanding to Lagos.