The founder, motorcycle-hailing firm, Gokada, Fahim Saleh, has finally reacted to the ban placed on the operation of commercial motorcycle operators in specific local government areas in Lagos State.
The ban, which took effect on February 1, 2020, has rendered several employees jobless and led to financial loss for investors.
One of the affected companies is Gokada, a company that created job opportunities for Lagosians. Now, the company and its employees are out of business/job for a week and still counting.
Riders are not mere motorcycle riders: In a video released by Saleh, in response to the ban, he said Gokada platform was designed for its riders to achieve their ambitions as some of them had to join the firm when they could not get a job.
He said the firm had been able to contribute to employment opportunities but the ban seems to have changed all that.
“The drivers here at Gokada, were not there to make money, they were here because they had families, they have children, they have dreams.
“They want to start businesses, they want to go to school, they have degrees already, but they couldn’t find jobs. For many, Gokada wasn’t the final place for their life. It was a stepping stone to get to that next endeavour.”
He added that, “What I will tell you is that Gokada is not just a business, it’s a mission. And every part of that mission is to always be safe, provide jobs. We did things that no one else (competitors) did in the market at the time. We provided helmet that was certified by the Department of Transportation, US Department.”
He added that out of 350,000 rides offered, only 250 minor accidents were recorded.
— Tosin Olugbenga (@TosinOlugbenga) February 3, 2020
He made the statement in response to the claim of Lagos State Government that regardless of the use of technology and branded bikes, the likes of Gokada, ORide, and MaxNG are nothing but motorcycle business.
“The ban affects them all, restricting their movements from six local government areas and nine local council development areas. These areas are revenue drivers for these bike-hailing services.
“This year, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) projected unemployment would rise to 33.5% from 23.1%. The Lagos State Government has added its quota to the rise, just thirty-one days into the year,” he added.
It’s a tough country for Saleh: The founder of Gokada is a native of Bangladesh. He is a serial entrepreneur and investor in emerging economies. He said being an investor in Lagos, Nigeria, is a tough task for him because he’s not a citizen.
But Saleh said Nigeria is a country with potential and people willing to work but all that is needed is to create the opportunities.
“It is tough for an entrepreneur who is trying to innovate, Investing his money when this is not my country. It’s a country I feel has amazing potential and has amazing people; they just need the opportunity to shine.”
What the ban means
Self-induced pain: Since Governor Sanwo-Olu stepped into the office, he has been assuring Lagosians that his administration is finding a lasting solution to the traffic issue experienced by residents of the state. The same gridlock has caused Lagos to lose some companies to Ogun State.
So, knowing that Lagos is a state that is prone to gridlock, why ban the alternative that was easing transportation in the most congested and second most populated state in Nigeria, without offering alternative(s)?
The ban has compelled those who used to park their cars at home in order to take motorcycles or tricycles to their destinations, to begin driving again. Consequently, the number of vehicles on the road has increased, compounding the traffic situation.
The high cost of living in Lagos: The ban has resulted in increase in transport fare. Commercial buses (yellow buses) have hiked their prices, and this will affect the cost of goods and services in Lagos, thereby increasing the cost of living within Lagos state.
This is coming at a time when the increase in VAT (5% to 7.5%) is expected to impact the cost of living in Nigeria; the ban will double the projection for Lagosians who are already living in a costly state compared to other Nigerian states.
Everybody can’t be artisan: The ban proves the Lagos State Government is just another typical African government that glorifies artisanship to hide its failure of not providing needed job opportunities that are in line with what Nigerians studied at their various tertiary institutions.
Besides, employment opportunities are changing from the traditional banking and engineering career paths because technology is opening new markets but Governor Sanwo-Olu wants riders, who were earning about N20,000 daily, to become bricklayers, painters, and tailors.
When unemployment begins to rise, the Nigerian government begins to force its citizens to look inwards, ignoring the fact that everybody can’t be an artisan. If everybody becomes an entrepreneur, who will work for who? A saturated market has its disadvantages, as it crashes price, limits revenue opportunity, thereby, preventing expansion and causing the market to lose investment attraction.