Photograph — Competition

Lagos State government has begun a clampdown on taxi-hailing companies like Uber and Bolt. This is coming barely a week after the implementation of a ban on commercial motorcycles and tricycles in the state. The government claims that drivers on these platforms ought to be certified by the Lagos Drivers’ Institute (LASDRI) before commencing operation in the state. These drivers are also required to obtain Hackney permits.

The Chief Executive Officer LASDRI, Mr. Phillip Ogunlade said the certification by the institute is compulsory for professional drivers in Lagos and is to be re-certified once every year. Ogunlade’s definition of professional drivers is termed as all those who earn a living as drivers, either in the public or private sector.

An officer of the Vehicle Inspection Services (VIS) also explained that for a company like Uber to operate in the state, it needs an operator license, one that Uber is yet to obtain despite being aware. “You need to have what we call operator license, which Uber was supposed to pay to the government. Uber has no operator license,” said the officer in question. This past weekend, some drivers operating on the Uber/Bolt platforms had their vehicles impounded.

This move by the government triggered a public backlash on social media as Lagosians lament the consequent hardship.  A twitter user @Morris_Monye said, “Okada’, ‘Keke’, ‘Gokada’, ‘Opay’, now Uber have their operations either banned or heavily restricted. Somehow, rickety, smelly ‘danfo’ is exempted and part of the greater Lagos. Who can explain this in simple terms? I do not understand.”

Another user, @principe_viii, tweeted, “First, the Lagos government came after Okada and Keke, now they are going after Uber and Taxify. They really are out to make Lagosians suffer for no reason.” Most Lagosians have not found it easy commuting daily since the implementation of the ban on bikes and tricycles. 

Since the enforcement of the ban, there has been an inflation in commuting fare, with Uber and Bolt increasing their rate as demand surges. Public commercial buses have also hiked their prices. Hence, the latest clampdown by the government on car-hailing firms is expected to have an even more adverse impact on the cost of living in the state.

By Ahmed Iyanda

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