Thank God it’s Friday. Well, not everyone will agree at least not the ride-hailing startups’ riders and customers who were victims of a police raid earlier today in Lagos.
According to reactions on Twitter, the incidence took place on the Island today, specifically at Adetokunbo Ademola and Ozumba Mbadiwe areas in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The raid saw the operatives of the Nigerian Police Force confiscate bikes owned and operated by the various ride-hailing startups, Gokada, Opay and Max.ng.
No explanation was given…
In one of the videos that surfaced, bikers belonging to the various ride startups claimed that the actions had taken place about three times already today and no explanation was given for it.
In one of their statements, the bikers said the Police officers claimed they were operation based on “orders from above”.
According to the tweets, over 30 bikes were said to be impounded and riders who were said to ask for explanations were reportedly harassed.
Another Twitter user (@AchinekuTersoo), who was a user of one of the ride-hailing service when the crackdown took place, shared pictures of the police officers impounding the bikes.
According to him, the police officers only targeted the bike-hailing services (as they let other traditional Okadas pass), with claims that the business was illegal. And when the officers were asked for a reason, they told the bikers to come to their station for an explanation.
Is the Nigerian Police Right on this?
And since the videos/tweets have surfaced, many users have taken to Twitter to react.
Some have claimed it was a ‘shakedown’ by the officers while others say it could be in accordance with the traffic rule that bans motorcycles on roads in Lagos.
This rule may be in reference to the road traffic law of August 2012, that outlawed the use of motorcycles below 200CC from operating on hundreds of roads in Lagos within the state metropolis.
But the ride-hailing startups have worked around this. All ensure that the bikes they use are with a cylinder capacity of 200 CC or more. These bikes are provided for riders upfront, which riders use under “hire-purchase” kind of scheme.
This is becoming one case too many…
Worthy of note is the fact that this is not the first time such is happening. Earlier in March this year, 22 bikes operated by Gokada and Max.NG was impounded by operatives of the Lagos State Task Force for operating on restricted routes and driving against traffic in Ikeja.
Then, the chairman of the task force, Olayinka Egbeyemi, labelled Gokada and Max.NG bike sharing business as illegal and undocumented with the state government.
Since this first incidence, there have conscious efforts by the startups, meeting with the various governments of the states they operate in – including Lagos.
Recently, it was announced that the Lagos state government is also planning to effect a licensing fee for bike hailing startups to operate in the state. This shows a recognition of the startups by the state government and they might not be illegal as mentioned by security operatives.
Up until press times, there’s yet to be any comments from either of the government/regulatory agencies or the ride-hailing startups.
So, it remains to be seen if this a government-sanctioned the raid for law defiance by the startups, or it is just a shakedown by police operatives. Whichever one it is, this is not a good development for the ecosystem.
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