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Dig­i­tal okadas get La­gos out a jam

For years, the fastest way to move across La­gos’s no­to­ri­ously con­gested city cen­tre was to do so by okada. Zip­ping across the city, these mo­tor­cy­cle taxis would quickly, and of­ten pre­car­i­ously, carry pas­sen­gers from one des­ti­na­tion to the next. But in 2012 they were banned across ma­jor La­gos roads for safety con­cerns, and con­fined to short jour­neys in a given neigh­bour­hood. Now, okadas are back and they are dig­i­tal! Com­pa­nies tap­ping into the global ride-hail­ing econ­omy have also ad­dressed the safety is­sues. The driv­ers are trained and tested; both driver and pas­sen­ger wear hel­mets; and the bikes have en­gine ca­pac­i­ties of 200cc and above, meet­ing gov­ern­ment stan­dards for load-bear­ing on ma­jor roads. “As at 2016, La­gos was grow­ing at an av­er­age of 85 peo­ple per hour,” says Chinedu Azodoh co-founder of one new mo­bile app, MAXGO, which launched in 2017. “The in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment is not keep­ing up. Roads are be­ing built and re­ha­bil­i­tated but not any­where near the re­quired rate to meet the mar­ket de­mand.” MAXGO has seen an in­creased adop­tion of its mo­tor­cy­cle taxi ser­vices, record­ing sev­eral hun­dred trips or­dered on the app daily. It has also spurred com­pe­ti­tion from the likes of Gokada – an­other two-wheel ride­hail­ing ser­vice which, in the last year, has ex­panded from La­gos Main­land to the Is­land. With their ex­tra safety mea­sures, swerv­ing through traf­fic and slith­er­ing through tight spa­ces, these two-wheel rides are cheaper than taxis, but more ex­pen­sive than the of­ten rick­ety and slow yel­low danfo buses that dot La­gos roads. Emeka Nwankwo in La­gos

A MAXGO cus­tomer gets ready to roll

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