Dividends of Democracy: Gokada lays off most of its staff

The Lagos State government will have you believe its sudden ban on micro transport (motorcycles and kekenapeps) was done for the ‘good’ of Greater Lagos. This is the mantra it has trotted out each time it committed an illegality against citizens of Lagos state. Last week, it announced out of the blue that it was banning all private transportation in the state to ‘make way’ for its new initiative to introduce 550 mass transit buses and 14 ferries to ease transportation. An unexpected part of this new ban was that it also targeted private transportation start-ups that had arisen to meet the demand for single seater motorcycle transportation.

Three major service providers operate in Lagos state. GoKada, which was the original disruptor to bring Okada ride sharing services to Lagos, MaxdotNG and OPay, the newest industry disruptor. For most of last year, we followed the news as these companies were harassed by the government and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) a pressure group in Lagos state that has been accused of essentially works as a mafia, extorting private transportation providers and enriching itself. It is the influence of the NURTW that keeps Danfos, a mode of transportation that uses decrepit buses to transport citizens on the roads.

Gokada
Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, meeting with and endorsing MaxdotNG late last year.

So the ban was unprecedented, considering it is rumoured these startups each paid 25 million naira to the government as a regulation license and have complied with the NURTW’s daily ‘tax’. All three companies brought a cumulative 200 million dollars in investments to the state and to be treated in this way in nothing short of atrocious. But then again, this isn’t the government’s first rodeo.

Now the first ripple effect of the knee jerk ban have occured, according to Wee Tracker, the CEO of Gokada, Fahim Saleh has announced the company has been forced to lay off most of its riders and staff as a way to stave off losing any more money as a result of the ban. This is often the first stage of a withdrawal from the market and a loss of revenue to the economy. Hundreds of riders and their families are suddenly without an income, simply because the government refuses to listen to its citizens or address real issues instead of lazy bans.

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