The launch of EkoCab has generated more chaos and anger than the supposed cheers. Lagosians have been trooping to the App stores to give the App low rating so that it could be removed from the stores.
The anger emanates from the perceived oppression of ride-hailing businesses in the state. The recent okada ban and the incessant reports of oppression of Uber and Bolt drivers by the officials of Lagos State Government.
It is believed that the clamp down by the state on the ride-sharing companies has been intentional, that it appears more like a retribution from the state government because the companies are on gig economy. And moreover, the state government has ulterior motive to start a ride-hailing company of its own.
For these reasons, Lagosians didn’t find the launch of EkoCab funny and have vowed to immobilise it.
But on Wednesday, Segun Cole took to Twitter to explain the new taxi and those behind it. Read his statement below.
“I am Segun Cole. CEO Ekocab. I know this is so 2000 and late, but better now than never.
“I have been a policy Consultant on New Mobility to State Governments. Advising them on how to better Regulate the Industry and proffering solutions.Sometime back 2015, Uber refused to be Categorized as a Transport Operator, called themselves a digital App connecting riders and drivers only. They created this messaging Architecture and it was established Globally.
“Lagos State wanted to better understand their Operations and bring them under the Tax Infrastructure. We advised them to set up a Sandbox framework, while collecting data to help them study the Operations. They did. On the Other hand, local taxis, including Metro/Red and the rest were complaining of diminishing profit margins and source of Income. The argument was that, this was their major source of Income, unlike Uber drivers that did this as part time mostly.
“So we advised the Regulators to tell these other players to go develop their own Tech, so the Regulators can then draft regulations that regulate all Digital Apps, whether uber or owned by players that owned Cars. Just One problem, the Technology was expensive. That’s when I offered to develop this App, that Onboarded all drivers from all other players that can’t afford to develop their own App. It was the M-a-a-s model.
“The Government agreed and Introduced us to these players. First of them are the yellow taxis. We wanted to give them a fighting chance, help them Upgrade. We understand it’s going to take more than just technology, so we trained and also did Culture Re-orientation for them. We only trained 100, that we’re tech savvy and Cars that met the standard(AC +).
“Most of these Cars are Unbranded, the media only took pictures of yellow pick up backs.
To put this in proper context, Ekocab is open to private Cars. It’s two offerings; local and private Cars. A Step beyond Uber’s model.
“We ran successful pilot tests around surulere last year. I have been involved in every Stakeholders engagement with the Government. This has nothing to do with any clamp down on Uber/Bolt. I took advantage of the timing like any Business person would do. Bolt/Uber, heck even fahim Saleh of GoKada are my friends.
“Why are think there is pressure from some Corners of Ekocab is that, we are going to be providing the Regulators a Dashboard to better Track Commuter Traffic Patterns, to better help solve traffic problems. This Mobility data would also provide information like accidents rates, speed rates, and e.t.c
“This doesn’t sit well with some folks, because this can also reveal some information that would expose shady activity. Away from Mobility data. Our prices are certainly Cheaper, and our 12% Commission is lower than what’s available. I plan to incorporate Boats, EV logistics and food delivery services. The name would change eventually to Incorporate the Vision. This has been bootstrapped with our money and sweat. We haven’t had a dime from any Investors. We did this on purpose, demon Investors everywhere.
“For Online Media presence and controlling the narrative, yes i agree, i have scored F9. Those that covered the launch on twitter, deliberately left out the fact where we announced the app would be going live on the 17th. We wanted to make sure demand met supply.
“This is a Nigerian Company, Owned by Nigerians. I am a Lagos Isale eko boy. I wanted to show that a Nigerian company can give other Nigerian entrepreneurs hope when placed against foreigner Companies with billions of dollars. I am not against Uber and Bolt or Opay, the road is Big enough (We all contribute to congestion though) I wish every player the best.
“I can’t Speak for the Government, what i can say is this, this isn’t Government Owned, no powerful person in the Government owns this. Lobbying isn’t Illegal. Every player should be deliberate about collaboration with Regulators.
Do a quick research, globally, the regulatory landscape is changing fast, in California and London, independent contractors have been reclassified as employees.
“I am a Member of NUMO(New Urban Mobility Alliance) I can suggest to local and foreign Regulators to borrow from the playbook of over 254 Cities. The point is this, At Ekocab, we want to take things further. There’s barely a Company that’s not selling Users data. Ekocab Mobility Data that doesn’t invade privacy and trade secrets would be sold and profits shared with our drivers. The Data that’s generated is done on Lagos Infrastructure and first belongs to Lagosians before its Ekocab or any company. This is Our Mission. Finally, I Am Open to going on Air or doing Interviews. Let’s Clear this up.
“I understand people are angry about the whole Okada Ban, my Company has nothing to do with this. Heck I used this Apps. I can barely survive without them. I went as far as engaging the Government to Overturn the Ban, and drawing from policies used in Regulating Asian Ride-hailing Apps. I also suggested, that when the players are back, they provide annual economic impact reports. What I am currently working on holistically with Ekocab, is a “Future of Africa Mobility Lab” that brings all Micromobility players and TNCs together, collaboration is the future.”
However, this explanation has fueled people’s anger more than it has calmed it. It is believed that Ekocab is a government owned enterprise that the state has planned to set up before now, and is using Mr. Cole to front it to cover the cynicism behind it. However, the perception of the Ekocab is likely going to impact the startup negatively.