By January 31, 2020

As MAX.ng & Gokada Riders Stage Protest, ORide Gives In & Gov’t Gives Fresh Reasons For Extending Okada Ban To E-Hailing Startups

By January 31, 2020

The Okada Ban Brouhaha

At the stroke of midnight, in the absence of any dramatic turn of events, commercial motorcycles and tricycles will pretty much be ‘illegal’ in many parts of Lagos, especially in those areas where they typically see a lot of use.

Since the government announced the decision to stop Okada and Keke from plying major routes in Lagos across six Local Government Areas (LGAs) and nine Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state, there’s been an outcry from both the masses who will be hit by the measure and the commercial e-hailing operators who were not spared by the axe.

While the government continues to maintain that the decision was borne out of safety and security concerns, app-based mobility companies like MAX.ng and Gokada, for instance, are claiming that they have always complied with all safety standards with distinction and the government have done a great injustice by grouping them with the informal operators who are notorious for flouting safety rules.

MAX.ng, Gokada Stage Protest – ORide Is M.I.A

Fresh reports have it that riders of MAX.ng and Gokada riders have staged a peaceful protest against the ban on the operation of commercial motorcycles. They are lamenting the hardship that they are likely to face since the source of their livelihoods is effectively being ripped from their hands.

There is no clear data on how many riders were involved in the protest, nor is there any reliable data on how many bike-hailing riders are in Lagos currently. But this publication says there are up to 800,000 Okada riders in Lagos.

The riders of MAX.ng and Gokada, who are dissatisfied with the policy, staged the protest, which started from Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, and reports have it that hundreds of them participated in the protest.

It was gathered that the riders marched to the Lagos State Secretariat in Alausa before security operatives barricaded the entrance to the Assembly.

While MAX.ng and Gokada have since voiced their dissatisfaction with Okada/Keke ban and their intention to seek redress, ORide — the bike-hailing service of Chinese-backed OPay — have broken their long, curious silence on the matter.

Tweeting via its Twitter handle, @getoride, ORide made it quite clear that it is complying with directive — no complaints, no questions asked. ORide stated that it will not be operating in the areas marked out by the government effective from February 1, 2020.

Lagos Gov’t Explains Decision To Also Clamp Down On Bike-Hailing Startups

In a series of tweets sent out via its official Twitter handle, @followlasg, the Lagos State Government gave further explanations as to why bike-hailing startups were not exempted from the ban. And some of the reasons were rather odd, to say the least.

The “FAQ-like” post can be seen below:

In a separate tweet, the Lagos State Government also highlighted the facts behind the decision to kick out commercial motorcycle/tricycle operators.

Besides all that talk of concerns over safety and security, another recurrent factor that triggered the Okada ban seems to be the insistence by the government that Lagos has some sort of mega-city masterplan that Okada/Keke simply do not fit into.

Dr. Frederick Oladeinde, the Lagos State Commissioner of Transport, who spoke to TechCabal recently said: “Let me make it clear, motorcycles and tricycles are not part of the Lagos masterplan. They came in because there is a gap, but they don’t have a place in a mega-city because of security and safety.”

The Commissioner also shot down claims the extant Transport Law Reform of 2018, upon which the Okada ban decision found legal backing, exempts bike-hailing operators from the ban.

Indeed, a section of the law seems to give a free pass to motorcycles with engine capacity of 200cc and above; something most bike-hailing startups comply with. But Dr. Olaseinde maintains that there are no loopholes.

“I have looked at the loopholes you’re talking about with the Attorney General and it is not a loophole. Nowhere did we say that motorcycles should be used for public transportation,” he said.

As things stand, the ban seems sure to take effect from tomorrow. It is understood that security agencies will be tasked with enforcing the ban. And it would be interesting to see what becomes of an overcrowded state that is already plagued by insane traffic jams due to inadequate road networks that have to serve thousands of vehicles.

Featured Image Courtesy: yans.ng

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