Few days ago, the Lagos State Government announced a ban on the operations of commercial motorcycles popularly called Okada and tricycles popularly called Keke Napep preventing them from plying certain routes within the state. The ban comes as the state begins total enforcement of the Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018. The ban includes motorcycle hailing tech ventures such as Oride, Gokada, Max.ng etc.
We recall last year, many of the motorcycle hailing companies had brawls with motorcycle operators within the country, requiring them to pay daily fees to them in order to operate in different routes.
The state government stepped in and required them to pay N25 million per annum as license fees to operate within the state, albeit still being negotiated downwards. In our view, the decision to ban them from accessing several major routes in less than a year after reaching an agreement appears out of place. We struggle to see how these motorcycle hailing firms would take this in their stride given the significant impact it would have on their revenues.
In fairness to the state government, it stated some of the reasons that informed the decision to enforce the ban. Between 2016 and 2019, over 10,000 motorcycle and tricycle accidents have been recorded in general hospitals within Lagos while over 600 deaths have also been recorded.
Furthermore, Lagos is becoming increasingly unsafe for its citizens due to the increasing rate of robbery perpetrated mainly by robbers using motorcycles to aid quick escape from robbery scenes. We also note that motorcycle and tricycle drivers contribute significantly to the notorious traffic situation in Lagos as many of them do not get any formal training and as such do not understand traffic signs and rules.
In our view, the decision to include registered operators like Gokada was not well thought out given the huge licensing fees they are required to pay and their relatively high cost of operations. We recall many of these companies raised significant capital to fund their operations last year in a bid to expand capacity and cover more areas within the state following the agreement they reached with the government on license fees. This policy instability and constant breach of agreements on the part of the government may continue to discourage the flow of FDIs into the country.
Furthermore, we note that many Lagosians are highly dependent on these banned means of transport within the state. Given that transport infrastructure remains decrepit and alternatives are yet to be created, the government should have held off the ban for now. Again, this lends credence to Nigeria’s history of “banning before providing alternatives”.
Whilst we agree totally that the banned mode of transportation remains unsafe, the absence of alternatives will make movement difficult for the average Nigerian.
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