Startups like Max.ng, Gokada, SafeBoda affected as Lagos state bans motorcycles

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Nigerian on-demand startups like Max.ng, Gokada and SafeBoda have a problem in parts of Lagos as the state government officially banned motorcycles and tricycles in large parts of the state.

The ban, which takes effect as of February 1, applies to six areas in Lagos, namely Apapa, Surulere, Lagos Island, Eti Osa, Ikeja and Lagos Mainland, posing a serious problem to transport-tech startups looking to streamline the motorcycle taxi industry in the congested city.

The likes of Max.ng and Gokada have raised significant funding rounds with such a goal in mind, while Uganda’s SafeBoda expanded to Nigeria after securing its own investment. Another affected company is the well-funded Opera spinout OPay.

Announced via a video tweeted by Jubril Gawat, senior special assistant to the Lagos state governor on new media, the ban has been put down to safety reasons, with Gbenga Omotoso, the state’s commissioner for information and strategy, saying more buses will be rolled out to the affected locations.

“After consultations with the stakeholders, the state security council, in compliance with the extant transport sector reform laws 2018 has decided to commence enforcement of the law which bans motorcycles and tricycles in the following Local Government and Local Council Development Areas,” Gawat said.

Gokada co-CEO Fahim Saleh said it was a case of wait and see in terms of what the impact would be on ride-hailing startups operating in Lagos.

“We’ll have to see how it works in implementation. Meanwhile, we need to have some backup plans and go into cockroach mode,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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