These are not good times for ride-hailing companies and their patrons in Lagos, as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration has started beaming lights on the operations of the car-hailing firms like Uber, Bolt, and Ocar among others.
This has caused an uproar on social media, with some Nigerians criticising the government and calling for a protest.
Few weeks after Lagos State Government banned commercial motorcycles and tricycles from plying six local government areas and nine local council development areas, it appears the government’s next move is to clamp on the operations of Uber, Bolt and Ocar.
Why is the government coming after them? It was disclosed that the car-hailing services have failed to obtain Hackney permits, which will change their vehicle registration to commercial from private.
A source in the Lagos Vehicle Inspection Services said commercial vehicle drivers, Uber, Bolt, and other car-sharing platforms are expected to be certified by the Lagos Drivers’ Institute before operation commences in the State.
He disclosed that Uber hadn’t paid an operator license fee to the state government. “You need to have what we call operator license, which Uber and others were supposed to pay to the government.”
This has led to the impounding of some Uber driver’s car. The driver had to pay N60,000 to retrieve his vehicle.
However, in a conversation with one of the VIS officials, he told Nairametrics that drivers on car-hailing platforms do not necessarily need Hackney permits except some that operate outside the operation model of the car-hailing services, by picking passengers like commercial buses.
He added that when they are caught, the Police will have to request for Hackney permit, which the VIS official said costs about N3, 000 and above, depending on the engine capacity of the vehicle.
The problem with the government’s crackdown: This has resulted in high cost of living in Lagos. The ban has caused inflation in transport fare, with Uber and Bolt increasing their rate as demand surges. Also, commercial buses (yellow buses) have hiked their prices, and this will affect the cost of goods and services in Lagos.
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.
Social media reactions: On twitter, several Nigerians responded to the new development. One twitter user, @Morris_Monye said, “‘Okada’, ‘Keke’, ‘Gokada’, ‘Opay’, now Uber have their operations either banned or heavily restricted. Somehow, rickety, smelly ‘danfo’ is exempted and part of the Greater Lagos. Who can explain this in simple terms? I do not understand.”
"Okada", "Keke", "Gokada", "Opay", now Uber have their operations either banned or heavily restricted.
Somehow, rickety, smelly "danfo" is exempted and part of the Greater Lagos.
Who can explain this in simple terms. I do not understand.
— the Morris Monye factor (@Morris_Monye) February 7, 2020
Another user, @topgee992 tweeted, “Now that the Lagos state government is coming for uber/taxify, what happens to that lady they bought car for to start-up? What’s really going on?”
Now that the Lagos state government is coming for uber/taxify, what happens to that lady they bought car for to start-up?
What's really going on?
— Temitope Agboola™ (@topgee992) February 7, 2020
A Twitter user, @principe_viii, wrote that, “First, the lagos government came after Okada and Keke, now they are going after Uber & Taxify. They really are out to make lagosians suffer for no reason.”
First, the lagos government came after Okada and Keke, now they are going after Uber & Taxify. They really are out to make lagosians suffer for no reason.
— Ichie Bullion (@principe_viii) February 7, 2020
@bolu_oj tweeted, “I am sad to hear that Lagos is going after Uber and Bolt. This will not end well.”
I am sad to hear that Lagos is going after Uber and Bolt.
This will not end well.
— Bolu Oj (@bolu_oj) February 7, 2020
@theofficialFEMI tweeted that, “Now that Lagos State Govt is coming for Uber and Taxify, I hope some of you still defending this madness are ready sha.”
Now that Lagos State Govt is coming for Uber and Taxify, I hope some of you still defending this madness are ready sha.
— BJORN Ironside (@theofficialFEMI) February 7, 2020
Meanwhile, Head of communications in West Africa, Uber, Efosa Aiyevbomwan, has assured stakeholders that it would continue to ensure its operations align with best practices.
In a statement, he said, “Uber continues to work closely with all relevant stakeholders in Lagos to ensure that our operations align with best practices locally and internationally, whilst also ensuring that drivers continue to earn a living and riders are able to move from point A to B, comfortably and conveniently, at the touch of a button.”