Since the advent of the corporate motorcycle-hailing companies such as Gokada, ORide, Max.NG, GoBike, SafeBoda, amongst others, many Nigerians have embraced the idea of transport by bike.
Many Nigerians embraced this to the extent that some have even parked their cars at home as they get to beat the daily traffic on the Lagos road. This has reduced the number of vehicles on the road with further the benefits such as less fuel usage, more productivity due to less time on the road, less road-caused stress, cleaner air due to fewer fumes from vehicle exhaust just to name a few.
To top it up, fewer road accidents and death caused by the regular Okada riders who can also be called ‘Road Pirates’ because of their unruly riding which has seen many car owners and pedestrians being terrorized on a daily basis. Some people develop permanent Bike-phobia because of these Okada riders.
I took my first ride ever on one of these motorcycle hailing companies, ORide to be specific, on Tuesday, September 17, 2019, and liked it. This first experience was comforting and satisfying as I felt like being driven by a chauffeur.
The next day, Wednesday, September 17, 2019, I decided to replicate my experience and booked for another ride with O’Ride. We escaped the traffic and I never had reason to complain about over speeding or reckless riding which is normal with Okada riders. But no sooner than we got to Omole Estate Phase 1 did a genuine reason to complain fall on my lap.
The security men at the Omole Phase 1 gate refused to allow ORide entry into the estate. I took it upon myself to find out why a corporate body that pays tax to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and employs thousands of people should be gated while local Okada riders putting on vests had unrestricted access.
My insistence on getting to the bottom of it led the security operative to call a military camouflage-wearing personnel kitted with communications devices on his side pockets was called upon to attend to me or probably to scare me.
I refused to be intimidated by his uniform or his posture and insisted on knowing why ORide was refused access but local Okada riders had access. The camouflaged-uniform personnel still refused access with the only excuse being ‘security and instruction from above’. I decided to visit the Omole Phase 1 security office to lodge my complaint.
They explained to me that it was purely based on security and nothing more but the question is still begging for an answer.
On Monday, October 21, 2019, I left my office and went to 9mobile office to re-register my line using O’Ride. After resolving the issue that took me there, I got another O’Ride biker to take me back to the office.
We were supposed to go through the Allen-Opebi round-about but the O’Rider said he can’t pass through that round-about according to him there are some taut-like staff of the local government extorting O’Ride bikers. I was shocked.
I asked him again for emphasis and he repeated that these rouge-looking supposed representatives of the Ikeja L.G.A. usually stop them, harass and extort money from them just as they do to the regular bike operators. I asked him if he has reported to his management and he said no. This means these harassments will continue and increase just like rape victims who don’t speak out.
Why do we have elements amongst us who sabotage everything we introduced in Nigeria that normally works in other climes?
O’Ride, and many others in this business are corporate citizens who pay taxes to the government and should be protected by the government. There is no justification for anyone in the guise of being a government representative to harass investors in our economy.
Government and its security operatives should rise to the occasion and protect business interests in Nigeria who provide employment, revenue, and capitalisation before we lose current and potential investors.