The advent of the motorcycle ride-hailing in Nigeria has brought a new phase to commuting for people living in the most populous city, Lagos. Living in Lagos State, the business hub of Nigeria can be very hectic especially when caught in the unpredictable traffic Jam (popularly called GO SLOW) or at the long queues at bus stations.
Long before the advent of on-demand motorcycle taxis, there was the local Okada – a popular carriage motorcycle in the State. The nefarious acts and reckless driving of Lagos Okada riders which resulted in ghastly accidents on the motorways made them unpopular and even led to a ban. This gave room for the advent of ride-hailing motorcycles in Lagos.
On-demand motorcycle taxi companies were swift at maximizing the niche created by local Okadas to their advantage. They launched with a Bang!, claiming they were swift, powerful and had more engine power. Max NG, the first ride-hailing company used the tagline, “Swift, quick and safe travel through motorcycles” to resound this claim.
The company introduced bikes with an engine capacity of 200 cubic centimetres to commute passengers to specific destinations. It also boasts of having 1000 riders signed to its platform and completes about 5000 rides per day. In 2019, the ride-hailing company raised $5.4 million to expand its services to waterways transport with the launch of GoBoat. They also rebranded their bikes to have crested numbers and provided stronger helmets.
Opera, popular browsing company also came into the picture with the launch of Oride, its on-demand motorcycle by May 2019. The company also provided a ride-hailing app which commuters use in hailing rides to various destinations.
Oride makes use of green branded bikes with 200 cubic centimetre engines to convey commuters around Lagos. The mobile app comes with a payment gateway dubbed OPay. The platform is used by riders to process payments, pay utility bills and facilitate all sorts of transactions. Opera also has a food delivery service, OFood and recently launched a bus service called OBus.
Opera launched into the motorcycle ride-hailing market with a ridiculously low discount for Lagos commuters. This helped the startup gain a large market share and accrue multiple downloads of the apps within the space of the discount. It also expanded Oride to Eastern and Northern Nigeria, giving the business a national coverage.
The motorcycle ride-hailing companies have to be mindful of the Lagos State government law. A recent speech from the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu reveals the state’s readiness to create stringent laws for motorcycle hailing startups. A proposed bill demands that ride-hailing companies have to pay licensing fees that run into millions of naira. If this bill is passed into law, it will have a gross effect on e-motorcycles.
Meanwhile, e-hailing bikes still have to compete with the local Okada riders that have stepped up their games and struggling to control a market share. Okadas charge very considerable prices compared to what is charged by counterpart mobile hailing startups.
A more disturbing issue for the on-demand motorcycle companies is the unavailability in the nook and crannies of Lagos Mainland, where they all have their base. Most of their riders prefer to ride in the more urban Lagos Island, rather than other parts of the State. Commuters sometimes struggle to book rides because of the rider’s refusal to go to specific areas. This further gives room for local Okada’s market penetration and ownership.
The Nigeria population, according to the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs is forecasted to reach 206,139,589 by 2020, against the current 201,985,726. This means there will be over 5 million increase in the population. This will invariably result in a higher demand for transport services. Thus, the survival of on-demand ride-hailing taxi is dependent on the ability to either improve their services or crash out of the market. One of these is inevitable.In all, Nigerians look forward to a sustainable means of transportation.