Crowded Lagos to ban motorbikes from most of Nigerian metropolis

28 January 2020 - 08:30 By Reuters
Motorcycle riders stay in line on the busy Apapa Road in Lagos, Nigeria.
Motorcycle riders stay in line on the busy Apapa Road in Lagos, Nigeria.
Image: Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nigeria's business capital, Lagos, will ban commercial motorcycles in large parts of the city, the state government announced on Monday, a move that could change the commute for thousands and threaten ride-hailing start-ups.

The Lagos state government announced on Twitter that it would ban motorcycles, commonly known as okadas, from operating in most of Lagos because of what it described as “chaos and disorderliness”, and “scary figures” from fatal accidents.

Companies such as Max.ng, Oride and Gokada have been aiming to capitalise on congested Lagos roads and the city's teeming population to expand their operations.

The ban cites a 2018 law to bar okadas and small three-wheeled vehicles known as kekes from Saturday. It would bar them from 40 bridges and flyovers, and areas covering the business districts of Victoria Island and Lagos Island, Apapa, where the primary port is located, as well as Ikeja, home to the international airport.

Chinedu Azodoh, cofounder of Max.ng, is hopeful the ban will not apply to them since their bikes are above the 200cc engine size banned by the law.

“From what we've seen today, we don't think the ban affects our business.”

Still, he said, enforcement could be tough on their riders and drivers if police are not well-versed on the specifics of the law.

“We expect some more clarity on how this will be implemented,” he said.

Max.ng, which also operates in Kano, Ibadan and Akure in Nigeria, had an investment round last year that raised more than $5m (about R72m).

Startup Gokada also raised $5m last year for its Lagos operations. Founder Fahim Saleh said while their bikes are also above 200cc, he was not sure about the impact of the ban on them.

“It's disappointing,” he said, adding they would seek to expand their operations in courier and logistics services. “We don't know how it's going to be enforced.”

In June, Gokada said there were an estimated eight million okada drivers operating across Nigeria.


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