Pulse Interview: Safer and faster, Gokada CEO speaks on why his platform is the best for Lagosians to beat traffic

Deji Oduntan, CEO of Gokada

For years, Lagos traffic has partly been responsible for people getting to work late and missing appointments, but recently, moving from one place to another for many Lagosians has got a lot better, safer and faster, thanks to Gokada.

Gokada is an on-demand transportation company or motorbike hailing service, and this platform, since January 2018, has been disrupting the transport system in Lagos.

In this interview with Pulse, Deji Oduntan, the founder of Gokada speaks about how his platform is helping many Nigerians to solve unemployment problems and the importance of using the Gokada platform to make money and beat traffic in Lagos. 

What is the business side to Gokada and how can Nigerians make money from it?

Gokada aims to re-launch its financial partner program in the second quarter of 2019. This program will be targeted at stakeholders interested in investing in Gokada by participating in the purchase of bikes through crowdsourcing. The aim of this is to replace the traditional use of equity funds that have been used to purchase bikes up until now — which has proved challenging due to the cost of financing in Nigeria. Those who invest in Gokada’s bikes will receive monthly returns.

We are also currently testing a new innovation that would help convey a brand’s message to its target customers or audience. The new platform is focused on getting brands to place their ads on our bikes, helmets and drivers T-shirts. Although the platform is yet to be fully launched, it’ll be one of the easiest and most effective ways of getting your brand message across to a wider audience. We are also looking to launch other verticals which will be announced in the next few months.

What informed this business?

We thought about how to solve transportation issues in Lagos, especially how to beat the Lagos traffic because it is a huge problem for Lagosians. The question was, how do we get Lagosians to their destinations 50% quicker and in a safe way?

Okadas are the quickest mode of transport in Lagos so it was a no brainer. Gokada was created to revolutionize the regular okada system whilst creating jobs for unemployed Nigerians and providing a fast and cheap service for Lagos commuters.

What was the people’s initial perception and reactions to Gokada?

I believe it has been very well received, especially for long distance rides. Our bikes are a lot more comfortable than the regular okada rides and the customers feel a lot safer knowing that the drivers are well trained to give them a fantastic experience on their daily commute. We have certain areas in Lagos where most of our regular customers are based so we have made every effort to increase the amount of bikes and riders in such areas.

How much can a bikeman make at the end of the month?

The earning potential of each rider is different. They can earn anything from N40,000 to N200,000 monthly, depending on how many rides they have taken. This is significantly higher than what a regular okada rider would earn.

Before Gokada, Lagosians are used to the traditional Okada riders, with Gokada now isn’t it expensive for an average Lagosian to patronize?

We are still cheaper than the regular taxi trip. The cost of Gokada rides starts from N100 and the cost goes higher depending on your final destination. Unlike traditional okadas, Gokada bikes run above 200cc+, which means they can take longer distance trips and have greater freedom of movement within Lagos. You can get a trip from Lekki to Gbagada for instance, which regular okadas can’t do. Our drivers are fully trained and our rides are very safe. We recorded a 0.013% accident rate last year.

You can find a Gokada anywhere in Lagos, using the smart app. Unlike other taxi hailing apps, you can hail a Gokada (just like you do with the regular okada) and he can manually start the trip on his app.

Why do you think Lagosians should pick Gokada and not regular Okada rider on the street?

We are safe — Drivers are extensively trained in defensive driving behaviour with safety always in mind. We also monitor all of our riders, so we are aware of their movements as an added level of customer safety.

We are smart — Riders can either hail or request drivers via the newly re-launched mobile app [available on Android and iOS]. In just 12 months of operation, Gokada has secured close to 1,000 bikes and completes around 5,000 rides across Lagos’ Mainland and Victoria Island, each day. We are affordable — Prices start from N100 and we are cheaper than regular buses and taxis.

Gokada is one year now, what are its impacts on employment in Nigeria?

So far we have empowered over 1000 drivers and with the launch of the Driver Training School we hope to empower thousands more who will be trained on how to ride Gokada bikes, customer service techniques, how to use the app and will also be given the opportunity to own their bikes after one year of service, amongst others.

Through Gokada, drivers are able to own their bike after one year of service. Drivers on average earn 2x more than they had previously. Gokada supports drivers with pension plans, recreational services, and health services.

Many people think Okada riders like some Danfo drivers are brash and uncultured, do you train Gokada riders on how to conduct themselves and treat customers before taking this job?

Drivers are required to pass an extensive psychometric and driving test where they are extensively trained in defensive driving behavior with safety always in mind.

What does it take to be a Gokada rider?

Drivers can register to take the psychometric and driving test. Once they pass this test, they are provided with a bike and a data-enabled smartphone.


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