Tension between the road transport workers’ union and ride-hailing startups was further heightened in Lagos on Tuesday, when riders attached to ORide took to the road to protest “multiple ticketing,” which is described as extortion, by the union members.
There has been no love lost between the road transport workers union and riders of ride-hailing companies in Lagos for over four months due to the ticketing system, which many riders are against. The ticketing, Nairametrics heard, is frustrating the business of the riders, as they must pay for every new location (LG) they ply within a day.
This led to the riders staging a protest around OPay’s (its parent company) office located at Agidingbi, Ikeja, to vent their frustrations. Although there were reports that the protest had been due to non-payment of dues by OPay to the riders, Nairametrics confirmed otherwise.
When the collision began
Riders of ride-hailing services and the road transport workers union had a bust-up in July 2019 after the union stopped them from requesting payment above the ticket price. The ticket was N100, but the union members demanded N500 from the Riders, resulting in the riders halting their trips.
This brought to fore the silent grievance of the riders, relating to the extortion claim against the union members. Nairametrics learnt that the management of ORide has been liaising with the Lagos State government to resolve the situation.
The Senior Director of Operations, Ridwan Olalere, told Nairametrics that the company hopes to reach an agreement with the Ministry of Transportation and the road transport workers, that will favour all parties involved. “We have been talking with the Ministry of Transportation and also the road transport workers union.
“These conversations are taking some time as we continue to engage with each other. The ultimate goal for us is to reach an agreement that will see every party content with the outcome. We are working very hard to ensure the rider experience is free of any hassle.” Olalere said.
Other confronting issues
Apart from the road transport workers union, the ride-hailing startups in Lagos also have an impending license fee which the State Government is planning to rollout soon. The License fee is reportedly fixed around N25 million annually per 1,000 bikes for the bike-hailing market.
While talks are still ongoing on the license fee, OPay’s Country Manager for Nigeria, Iniabasi Akpan, and the founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Gokada, Fahim Saleh, said they are open to government regulation, as it will improve the services of the ride-hailing companies.
Is Lagos shooting itself in the foot?
The face-off between the riders and the road transport workers union, as well as the uncertainty surrounding regulation in the state is portraying Lagos in a bad light. This is bad publicity for the ease of doing business in Lagos.
It could compel operators of ride-hailing services to move to other states in Nigeria where regulation is well defined and flexible for business growth. The N25 million license fee has been tagged as suffocation of the ride-hailing companies which are still startups.
Also, this could discourage new players from entering the ride-hailing market in Lagos. Uber already has its ride-hailing service, UberBoda, in Kenya and Uganda, but Lagos which serves as one of its vital market for its car-hailing service has been avoided. With Lagos being a traffic-ridden state, the government needs every alternative transport to vehicles, in order to decongest the road of vehicles.
The multiple ticketing could also compel some drivers to avoid certain routes (LGs) in order not to pay some levies, and this will lead to some areas being underserved by the ride-hailing companies which are also championing the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) financial inclusion agenda.