Nigerian startup Gokada lays off 70% of workforce in wake of Lagos state motorcycle ban

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Nigerian transport startup Gokada has laid off 70 per cent of its workforce as it enters “cockroach mode” in the wake of Lagos state’s motorcycle ban.

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.

They include Gokada, which was formed in February 2018 and allows customers to order a motorcycle ride via its website or app, as well as the likes of Max.ng, SafeBoda and Opera spinout OPay.

Gokada co-CEO Fahim Saleh was due to speak at last week’s Africa Tech Summit Kigali, but had to pull out to head straight to Lagos “given the severity of what’s going on”.

“We have had significant layoffs in order to prepare for the worst and pivot to logistics,” he said.

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

The startup secured US$5.3 million in Series A funding last year to expand its driver fleet, increase its daily ride numbers and grow its team, but in August suspended operations for a period of 12 days to address various issues within its service identified by Saleh while on a trip.

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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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