Since commercial motorbikes and tricycles, including bike-hailing services, were outlawed in some key areas of Nigeria’s commercial nerve, Lagos State, on February 1, the State Government seemed to have turned its attention to providers of cab-hailing services.
After the initial back-and-forth between government officials and cab-hailing operators which happened just days after the “Okada ban” took effect, there are hints of a new regulation that is likely to leave the cab-hailing operators hamstrung.
A source told The Guardian that while negotiations are ongoing between the state and ride-hailing operators, the new regulations will mandate third-party operators like Uber and Bolt to pay NGN 10 Mn and an annual renewal fee of NGN 5 Mn if they have less than 1,000 drivers.
Third-party operators that have more than 1,000 drivers will pay NGN 25 Mn licensing fee and NGN 10 Mn annual renewal fee.
Operators who directly own their cars and employ their drivers will pay only the license fee of NGN 5 Mn if such operators have below 50 drivers. Those who have more than 50 drivers will pay NGN 10 Mn for the operating license. Under the new regulation, the state government will also earn 10 percent on the fee for each trip.
Ayoade Ibrahim, the President of the National Union of Professional E-Hailing Driver-Partners, said he was aware that the government had a meeting with 20 operators, where they were told about the amount to be paid for the license and renewal fees.
Ayoade also said the drivers are holding talks with the government to amend the regulations, which he claims are detrimental to their operations and could stifle their services.
“All of these laws and licenses are not for us and that is what we are trying to let them know,” he said.
However, Bolanle Ogunlana, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Transport, claims that the state has not asked any operator to pay license or renewal fees. But she did say that the ministry was in discussions with relevant stakeholders to come up with operational guidelines.
Additionally, under the new regulations which are to come into effect on March 1, drivers on ride-hailing platforms are required to have Lagos State Drivers’ Institute (LASDRI) card and a driver badge issued by the Department of Public Transport and Commuter Services of the Ministry of Transport.
The vehicles on such platforms must have hackney permits issued by the Lagos State Motor Vehicle Administration Agency and be fitted with a tag to be issued by the aforementioned department.
In the weeks that followed the “Okada ban”, reports emerged that Uber and Bolt drivers in Lagos were getting hassled by officials of the Vehicle Inspection Services (VIS).
According to the reports, the officers were impounding vehicles that failed to provide hackney permits and LASDRI license, and compelling “errant” drivers to pay as much as NGN 60 K into government coffers before their vehicles are released.
On their part, the drivers claimed to be completely oblivious of any such documentation requirements, even as the VIS officials say those are standard requirements that have always been in effect and was not exclusively targeted at e-hailing operators.
In any case, it is understood that Bolt sent a message to its drivers stating that it was engaging with Lagos State Government to ensure “that any new regulations are implemented efficiently.”
Similarly, it was gathered that Uber sent a message to its drivers on Wednesday to update their profile with copies of their hackney permits and LASDRI licenses.
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