Gokada founder shuts down operations after ordeal with errant pilot


Lagos-based bike-hailing startup, Gokada said it will shut down its operations over a week period.

Gokada is the arch-rival to Opera Limited’s ORide, a bike-hailing service offered via its OPay mobile payment platform.

According to a medium post by Gokada’s founder and top financier, Fahim Saleh, the shutdown was as a result of ‘increased competition, regulatory hurdles, and operational’

However, he narrated a rather unpleasant ordeal he had with a Gokada pilot whom he accused of not knowing the directions to one of his test locations.

“It’s not easy criticizing your own company. But either I could ignore these issues and move along happily like everything was fine. Or I could realize that this kind of thing is happening to our customers thousands of times over. I am not ok with that”

“Gokada was started to change the perception of what the bike taxi could be in terms of safety, convenience, and transparency. In many ways, we’ve succeeded but we have also failed,” he said.

However, Fahim tried to convince the public in his post that the shutdown was not just because of the errant pilot but because of: Gokada 2.0 initiative.

He said customers should expect ‘brand new bikes…much better quality and sexy as hell’

As for his solution to the poor service delivery by one of his pilot, Fahim said: “We’re offering drivers more: maintaining their bikes for free, opening a drivers club, and expanding our health benefits.”

While his effort to ensure his startup is operating properly is highly commendable, Fahim also left many ‘unasked’ questions ‘unanswered’.  For instance, how many motorcycles does Gokada has currently? How many is he planning to add? What makes him describe the new bikes ‘as sexy as hell’?

According to an industry expert, Gokada is said to have in its fleet an estimate of about 500 motorcycles operating across the Lagos metropolis. Surprisingly, three months old ORide has about 2,000 (estimates) in its fleet. There is no guarantee that he could add up to another 500 motorcycles to his fleet. This is not to take away the fact that Gokada recently announced the raising of about $5.3 million in fresh funding to scale its operations.

Moreover, Gokada’s raising was dwarfed by OPay’s $50 million fresh funding recently announced to scale ORide operations across Lagos and beyond. In the last one month (barely two months after launching in Lagos), ORide has now started operations in three other cities including Ibadan and Akure, two of the most important cities in Nigeria’s Southwest region.

Prior to the arrival of ORide into the market, Gokada was leading the Lagos market as the largest motorcycle service over other providers such as Max and SafeBoda.

However, an unprecedented push by ORide back by strong aggressive marketing and promotional campaigns has seen the new entrant overtaking Gokada on daily completed rides and brand recognition. According to an analyst with close ties in the bike-hailing business, through its OPay-led approach, ORide is now leading the market across Lagos and beyond, ‘for every 10 motorcycles, ORide is about six’.

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