Upon the ban of okada in Lagos, displaced motorbike ride-hailing companies have been seeking ways to survive the ordeal and stay in business, and Ibadan, the Oyo State capital city in Southwest Nigeria appears to be providing the needed succor.
Ibadan is well known for its use of motorcycles as means of transportation, a culture it has in common with Lagos and Ogun States. The number of people who hop on motorbikes on the daily in Ibadan, gives the city a lucrative demographic for ride-sharing business.
Apart from Ogun State, Oyo happened to be one other state that share economic proximity with Lagos. Though Ibadan has low level of vibrancy and bubble when compared with Lagos, it offers alternate economic environment to Lagos and Ogun States. For that reason, OPay’s ORide, Max and the newly introduced Safeboda, are all trooping to Ibadan as alternative to Lagos.
However, the invasion of these companies is causing disruption of the already existing motorcycle transport system. Ibadan residents are used to waving commercial motorbikes down, a practice common in most cities in Nigeria where there is no ride-sharing innovation. The people appear to be used to it and may find it hard to adapt to App-based booking.
But recently, things have started changing. Innovative transport systems have their way into the hearts of the people. Moreover, the Oyo State Government has overhauled the existing transport structure in the state, abolishing the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), a non-governmental organization responsible for the transport management in many states in Nigeria, but has been heavily tainted with violence, extortion and touting to the displeasure of many, including the Oyo State Government. It was disbanded on the account of insecurity and the state government launched a new transport management for safer transport services.
The newly instituted Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA) is designed to proffer solutions to transport concerns in the state: which are mainly insecurity and reckless driving that is resulting in increasing cases of passengers falling victims of armed robbery and road accidents in the state.
So far, some measures have been taken by the transport management authority to ensure safer transport practices in the State. They include taking personal information of every driver in the state and issuing them ID cards thereafter.
Prof. Raphael Afonja, the Oyo State’s Commissioner for Public works, Infrastructure and Transport said it is a way to checkmate crime in the state.
“In order to control crimes being associated with motorcyclists and the influx of commercial motorcyclists into Oyo State, the Government will, in due course, issue Rider’s Card to all registered commercial motorcyclists in the state,” he said.
There was also road safety training for both corporate and commercial drivers in the state. The training aimed to educate motorists on road signs, rules, defensive driving, and other dos and don’ts of road usage.
The Chairman of OYRTMA, Mogaji Akin Fagbemi said that the training, conducted in November 2019, was aimed at reducing prevalence occurrences of road traffic accidents in the state.
“We are working to put the incidents of traffic accidents to the lowest degree and make the State a good example in the area of traffic regulation compliance and discipline,” he said.
Oyo state’s new approach to its transport management gives the ride-sharing companies opportunity in the state. The companies already have safety measures in place that put riders at peace. This and the ability to book a ride from the comfort of the rider’s home put the newcomers in a favorable situation.
But the competition is rife between the companies, mainly because there are not enough riders to go round. But OPay’s ORide has been leading because it arrived earlier than others and has won a lot of riders, but it has a big challenge that may enable others to usurp it.
In July 2019, OPay introduced ORide in Ibadan, offering riders enticing discount in fairs. The company also gave riders the opportunity to pay using its payment platform, and that drew so many people to it. Subsequently, there were reports of drivers’ misconduct that company has done nothing to address and it has dampened the trust the people had on ORide.
In March 2020, Safeboda and Max joined the race to win commuters in Ibadan. They seem to be capitalizing on existing challenges to win passengers for themselves. Max has landed in the city with a fine reputation from Lagos and has a brand to protect. On the other hand, Safeboda is trying to make a name for itself and will likely give it the best shot by treating riders to pleasure and ensuring that drivers corporate with laid down rules of the state’s transport management.
ORide is currently having a demand bump due to perceived lack of checks and balances in its operation. With Max and Safeboda in contest, riders will have options to choose from, and winning will depend on three things: Safety, affordability and driver-rider relationship.