RAHEEMAH AROGUNDADE and EJIRO AWHANA write on the prospects of corporate, technology-driven commercial motorcycle business in Nigeria’s business capital
Our technologically aware world is birthing innovations and opportunities. The major benefit derived from the proliferation of Internet-related services has made life easier in commerce, education, transport, health and other sectors.
Transportation is the fulcrum of every modern economy, measuring its effectiveness.
Commerce is part and parcel of every society, but the efficiency at which people move goods and services from one place to another determines the strength of the economy, the quality of life and the growth of such society.
Corporate motorcycle business is raising the bar, with the inclusion of e-commerce services.
Due to their ability to beat the gnarling Lagos traffic by snaking through ‘impossible’ pathways and any available space, motorcycles are seen as a faster alternative to either private or public vehicle. Here, the preference for motorcycles is understandable. In a city where you have to wake as early as 4a.m. to avoid getting caught up in traffic and consequently miss appointments, people are bound to choose motorcycles as real time transport mode.
“Motorcycles are generally faster, especially when considering traffic congestion in big cities like Lagos. Unlike public buses or cabs, the motorcycles do not have to stop at any point to pick passengers. We see that this wastes people’s time and hinders them from meeting appointments. Also, not everyone can affordUber or Taxify because of the charges. These are some of the reasons motorcycles are preferred to other forms of transport in Lagos,” explained a Gokada staff simply identified as Ade.
In Lagos, with an estimated population of 17.5 million, approximately 227 vehicles are on every kilometre of road, according to statistics. Yet you see people always stranded at motor parks and lay-bys. This not only proves that the number of cars is insufficient, it also reveals that almost half the population of the city depend on public transport. Bernstein’s report projected that the number of cars in the world will double by 2040. Hence, the need for and creation of more job opportunities around the automobile industry.
The population of Lagos necessitates the provision of many alternative means of transport to cater for the needs of the residents. That is why, apart from public vehicles and motorcycles, corporate vehicle and motorcycle businesses are sprouting. Prominent among the corporate vehicle business are Uber and Taxify, while among the corporate motorcycle businesses are Gokada and MaxOkada.
Enter the flagship
Chief executive of Gokada, Deji Oduntan, describes his company as an on-demand transportation company that has been redefining the transport system in Lagos by leveraging technology to connect users to the closest riders within their location.
“The need to solve the transportation problem in Lagos and reduce the way traffic affects its inhabitants brought about the conception of Gokada. The question was, how do we get Lagosians to their destinations 50 per cent quicker and in a safe way?
“Motorcycles are the quickest mode of transport in Lagos; so it was a no brainer. Gokada was created to revolutionise the regular Okada (commercial motorcycle) system, while creating jobs for the unemployed and providing a fast and cheap service for commuters,” he told an online medium, Pulse.
Since its inception in 2017, Gokada has registered over 1,000 motorcyclists in Lagos. Their mode of operation portrays skill and efficiency to solve transportation issues in Nigeria.
Financial Street gathered from some corporate motorcyclists that they make between N7,000 and N12,000 daily and ‘deliver’ N3,000 to their employers every weekday. In a day, each rider reportedly makes an average of 10 trips, which implies that thousands of Lagosians patronise them.
According to Oduntan, the earning of each rider depends on their ability to attract clients, but they can earn between N40,000 and N200,000 monthly.
“So far, we have empowered over 1,000 drivers, and with the launch of the Driver Training School, we hope to empower thousands more who will be trained on riding Gokada bikes, customer service techniques, and using the app. They will also be given the opportunity to own the bikes after one year of service, among others,” he added.
Evidently, the corporate motorcycle business does not just improve the transportation challenges in Lagos. The operators testify to its efficacy in solving the unemployment question and empowering people.
A corporate commercial motorcyclist identified as Ola stated. “If we are to pay the N3,000 for about a year, we own the bike. We have a mechanic workshop that sees to rider’s needs. We take the bikes there for repairs at very little cost and that really helps us.”
Also, these corporate riders are obliged some benefits enjoyed in the corporate world like pension and health services.
“Through Gokada, riders are able to own their bike after one year of service. Riders, on average, earn twice what they previously earned. Gokada supports drivers with pension plans, recreational and health services,” says Oduntan.
Quality staff, service
Unlike the conventional motorcyclist, these newbreed riders are trained in safety and their behaviour on the road monitored.
Oduntan explains that Gokada riders are extensively trained in defensive driving behaviour with the safety of their customers always in mind.
“Apart from that, the riders are being monitored to assure customers’ safety. Additionally, the riders can either hail the motorcycles or request riders through the mobile app.
“The cost of Gokada rides starts from N100 and it goes higher depending on the final destination.
“Unlike traditional motorcycles, Gokada bikes run above 200cc+, which means they can take longer distance trips and have greater freedom of movement within Lagos. You can get a trip from Lekki to Gbagada, for instance, which regular motorcycles cannot do. Our riders are trained and our rides are very safe. We recorded 0.013 per cent accident rate last year,” he added.
These corporate motorcyclists are not spared of the harassment by local government revenue collectors. But Gokada has promised to address that challenge.
Like any other metropolitan city, traffic congestion is a norm in Lagos. But Gokada’s innovation has indeed redefined transportation in Lagos. Lagosians can now plan their movement more accurately.