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.
FCT Fuel scarcity: Why the queues have returned
There have been reports of long queues in the FCT, leading to major traffic jams in some parts of the city.
On Monday, 19th of April, 2021, the NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari assured Nigerians that there would be no increase in the ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as Petrol in May. Kyari also added that Petroleum Tanker Drivers had suspended their proposed strike after the intervention of NNPC in the impasse between the PTD and the National Association of Road Transport Owners.
“We have given our commitment to both NARTO and PTD that we will resolve the underlining issue between them and come back to the table within a week so that we’ll have a total closure of the dispute,” he said.
However, in the Federal Capital Territory, it was a different story, because the intervention of the NNPC on the proposed strike may have come a little late. Starting on Monday evening, there were reports of long queues in the city, which continued even up to Tuesday afternoon, leading to major traffic in some parts of the city.
At around 2 pm on Tuesday, a trip to fuel stations in the Karu-Jikwoyi area and some other parts of the FCT revealed queues of varying lengths. Fuel stations in the city centres had noticeably long queues as consumers struggled to fill up vehicle tanks and kegs.
A driver, Agbor, spoke to Nairametrics on his ordeal in trying to get petrol.
“I heard the queue was not as bad here as it was in town, so I rushed down to this queue at O-Max but the attendants said they don’t have much fuel for now, and are rationing how much they sell. I had no choice but to buy 10 litres of black market fuel at N4,000.”
At some stations including NNPC filling stations, long queues extended into nearby streets and although vehicular movements were being controlled to provide some semblance of order, the gates were shut in many to prevent mayhem.
The severity of the situation was also quite pronounced at Asokoro. There were long queues at the MRS filling station at AYA junction and A. A Rano station among others. The entry and exit gates were completely shut in many instances with teeming consumers struggling to gain entry. A petrol attendant who asked not to be named told Nairametrics that the situation is temporary and blamed the proposed strike for the inconvenience.
The scarcity situation was not different in Area 11, Garki. The main Total filling station was blocked on all sides and petrol was not being sold from the pumps at press time. The queues had also extended from the station to NNPC HQ. At Conoil, the situation was not much different and as of 2 pm yesterday, fuel was not being sold at the station.
In response to the situation, the federal government, on Tuesday afternoon, gave an update on fixing the fuel scarcity situation as NNPC GMD, Mr Mele Kyari told reporters that fuel loading had commenced in all depots and tankers would soon arrive at various parts of the city to end the scarcity situation.
“These queues will go away. It’s because there was an industrial action by petroleum tanker drivers against their employers, the National Association of Road Transport Owners, around their compensation package.
And those issues were not resolved up till yesterday, until we intervened to ensure that there’s an amicable settlement between the parties so that they will have peace and then normal loading operations will commence from the depots.
As I speak to you at this moment, loading has commenced in all depots in the country, dispatches of trucks are ongoing in all the depots in the country and they have called off the strike for a period of one week to enable us intervene and find a solution.” he said.
Why some real estate companies are at risk of bankruptcy
Many real estate companies affected by the pandemic have folded up, as housing subscribers were finding it difficult to service their mortgage payments.
No doubt, these are trying times for different sectors across the Nigerian economy and the nation’s real estate segment is not insulated from the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some operators and stakeholders have expressed their fears that if the Federal Government does not intervene, more real estate companies may be forced to shut their operations.
Why firms may fold up – Experts
The experts have lamented that despite the challenges facing the real estate sector, especially with the pandemic, the Federal Government has not paid due attention to the sector.
The Managing Director, Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank Plc, Dr Olabanjo Obaleye, explained that the government is yet to provide financial succour and other structural support to mortgage banks and the housing sector, even in the heat of the pandemic.
According to him, the government appeared to be only concerned with raising taxes to boost revenue but has not provided the required succour to cushion the impact of the pandemic on businesses in the country.
During an Earnings Conference Call, he said, “Many companies affected by the pandemic had folded up, as housing subscribers were finding it difficult to service their mortgage payment. There are two companies that have just collapsed due to the inability of their owners to get foreign exchange for the importation of raw materials.
On the level of government support on COVID-19, there is nothing visible we have seen. We have read so many pronouncements on that from the government but we haven’t got any palliative in that respect. We have made proposals to government through our relevant authority but there is a need for certain funds to be set aside for this.”
A real estate practitioner and also the Vice President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (LCCI) Gbenga Ismail, explained that the impact of COVID in real estate would be felt by stakeholders and property owners because of the tenancy/rent structure of the sector.
Unlike what is obtainable in other climes like the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America where rents are renewed on a monthly or quarterly basis, Nigerians will feel the pressure now, as rents are paid in one or two years advance.
According to Ismail, who spoke in an interview monitored by Nairametrics, most people that have either lost their jobs or whose salaries are slashed will feel the effect more now compared to last year.
He said: “Now, people won’t be able to pay rents or buy houses as planned. We are not sure of where the monetary issues are going now and not sure if lending will continue into the real estate sector. We are yet to see some of these things going on.
“Even in inventories, where developers have put houses out for rent, the concern is who is going to rent them? Before COVID-19, we wait 6 months before houses get rented or leased but now it may not be less than 12 months.”
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