Uber came to Lagos around 2014 and went straight for the middle-class crowd albeit, that market wasn’t fat enough. They soon found out that any businesses targeting recherché segments in Nigeria never last long. Uber pivoted as the recession gradually wore off as ride-hailing became the go-to for almost every middle-classer.
It didn’t take too long before a pricing war ensured. Boy oh boy, it was bloody! By the time the smoke cleared, it was you and your cousins, that had the last laugh. Go on soun!
Baba Simbiat, the yellow cab driver was the collateral damage.
As expected, ride-hailing became so successful in Lagos that it killed Yellow cabs in high-brow areas. After all, only the well-to-do were taking yellow cabs before, so they all just ditched loyalty for comfort and value. Or why would you prefer to stand in the sun to roast or in the rain to take a public bath when you can get Uber at your doorstep with just an app? With a zero-brain-needed simple app, you request your ride and a (sometimes) decent man or pretty lady (on your lucky day) pulls over in an air-conditioned Toyota Corolla after some 10 – 15 minutes. How easier and fulfilling could commuting be?
To make matters worse for Baba Simbiat, Uber charges 33% less and ensures that you get as comfortable as you could be because the driver knows how much a five-star rating on his feedback dashboard could do for him. Baba Simbiat doesn’t give two flying horse legs. Woe betide you if you are deemed to be dressed indecently, Baba will remind you that your mom failed parenting 101.
Putting that into perspective, you pay N1,000 as the Uber fare for a 9 km distance, but Baba Simbiat will charge your sorry ass nothing less than N1,500 for the same journey in his rickety cab. How cruel! It’s like being asked to choose between Shawarma and Agege bread.
Funnily enough, Uber was not the first guy on the block to try out technology on transportation, but they seem to have done their homework well to have their model scale. The first shot at the use of technology for transportation in Lagos dates back to 2009 when the “Red Cab” was launched. Unfortunately, Citrans Global Limited, operators of the “Red Cab” failed to leverage on its first-mover advantage.
Since Uber’s entrance into the Nigerian market, a flurry of other ride-hailing platforms has emerged, some of which include; Taxify, NaijaTaxi, CabMan, PamDrive, SmartCabs, Holy Cabs, Oga Taxi, GoMyWay, Alakowe, Smart Cab, Jekalo, Ridebliss amongst others.
But all that is history for those that care to know…
But then. traffic in Lagos has become so bad that a baby born at the start of one in the morning is old enough to enter JS 1 before it clears. Consequently, the utility of Uber is trending towards zero on bad days.
We are always in a hurry to get to our destinations and Okada is the next best thing. But then some of us can’t be found dead, alive, or even comatose at the back of an Okada and it’s not because of feeling fly; A trip to Igbobi will convince you. Nevertheless, Gokada and Max.ng have brought the Uber model to Okada business in Lagos.
The Gokada way makes a whole lot of sense if you don’t want to spend the rest of your eternity growing old inside the toxic Lagos traffic. And they are getting cheap enough to make a small dent on the regular Okada business; probably in the same high-brow areas.
Fortunately for the ingenuity of Chinedu Azodoh and Adetayo Bamiduro of Max.ng and Deji Oduntan of Gokada, Akinwunmi Ambode led administration has banned the movement of all 100 cc motorbikes which are mainly driven by the regular “Okada” riders, hence giving room for them to scale with their 200 cc motorbikes. So, asides from getting you quickly to my desired destination, these guys also ensure that you don’t go home with a new set of rashes and infections anytime you use their helmet. That makes you more comfortable to get the next ride and beat traffic with class, wearing a fine green helmet.
Well, the jury is still out if they would be successful but trust me, the demand far outstrips the supply. If this can remain for the next 5 years, then we’ll all have to trust the “Invisible” to do its thing and wipe out all the Okadas from the street of Lagos
Now back to the Yellow Cabs. They have virtually disappeared from Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, and Ikeja areas, and I bet you, in 5 years, they could be 100% gone. Why? Because they would never be cheap enough to become a replacement for buses and never convenient enough to match Uber and Bolt.
That’s checkmate for Baba, he had better start thinking of how best he could make money off his car. Well, maybe he’ll run to Ibadan and repaint his vehicle, but I heard Taxify is doing stuff there already.