Trend hunter: Digital okadas get Lagos out of a jam

Photos : Urban Africa

 

For years, the fastest way to move across Lagos’s notoriously congested city centre was to do so by okada.

Zipping across the city, these motorcycle taxis would quickly, and often precariously, carry passengers from one destination to the next. But in 2012 they were banned across major Lagos roads for safety concerns, and confined to short journeys in a given neighbourhood.

Now, okadas are back and they are digital! Companies tapping into the global ride-hailing economy have also addressed the safety issues.

The drivers are trained and tested; both driver and passenger wear helmets; and the bikes have engine capacities of 200cc and above, meeting government standards for load-bearing on major roads.

Infrastructure development is not keeping up

“As at 2016, Lagos was growing at an average of 85 people per hour,” says Chinedu Azodoh co-founder of one new mobile app, MAXGo, which launched in 2017. “The infrastructure development is not keeping up. Roads are being built and rehabilitated but not anywhere near the required rate to meet the market demand.”

MAXGo has seen an increased adoption of its motorcycle taxi services, recording several hundred trips ordered on the app daily.

It has also spurred competition from the likes of Gokada – another two-wheel ride-­hailing service which, in the last year, has expanded from Lagos Mainland to the Island.

With their extra safety measures, swerving through traffic and slithering through tight spaces, these two-wheel rides are cheaper than taxis, but more expensive than the often rickety and slow yellow danfo buses that dot Lagos roads.

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