Nigeria: Framework for Turning Lagos Into 'Smart City'

29 January 2020

Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the Transportation Hailing Alliance of Nigeria, a coalition of operators leveraging technology within the moto-taxi industry in Nigeria, is ready to partner the Lagos State government to deploy technology infrastructure that will help achieve the state's broader vision for a 'smart city'

There is no doubt that Lagos is a mega city but the move now is make it also a smart city. To achieve that, the Transportation Hailing Alliance of Nigeria, a coalition of operators leveraging technology within the moto-taxi industry in Nigeria and committed to safe, reliable and fairly affordable transportation, is proposing a workable framework.

This framework no doubt, will tackle the menace of commercial motorcycles, who are popularly known as Okada. Gotten from the defunct Okada Airways, these breed of okada riders have in no small measure contributed to the chaos in the mega city, also touted to be the commercial nerve centre of the nation.

Given the chaos and its resultant negative effects like accidents and deaths, the state government has on countless occasions resorted to banning them from 475 roads out of its 9100 roads in the state. These are contained in Section 3 and Regulation 16 Sub-Section 4, 5 and 6 of the 2012 Road Traffic Law.

Entrance of THAN

The Transportation Hailing Alliance of Nigeria is a coalition of operators leveraging technology within the moto-taxi industry in Nigeria and committed to safe, reliable and fairly affordable transportation. The group which is currently composed of the nation's leading motorcycle operators is presently comprised of MAX, ORide and Gokada.

Presently, the group's goal as an industry is to align quickly with government on an agreeable framework for the transportation needs of citizens in a fast growing mega city as Lagos. This includes partnering to deploy technology infrastructure that helps the government achieve it's broader vision of a smart city."

Framework

According to THAN, in order not to become the very nuisance that has typified the conventional commercial motorcycles, they are quite willing to work with the state government in putting together a framework that will effectively serve the state and its citizenry.

This they intend to do by ensuring a safe and structured operations, just as they intend to highlight the importance and modernisation that its operations has brought into the transportation hailing industry.

They also intend to educate the masses on what to expect and demand from operators, as well as demonstrate the potential for government to block revenue leakages by leveraging technology that allows for transparency. In the same vein, they appealed to government to continue to provide enabling environment and policies for the sustainable operations of the industry

Alliance

Although the respective companies under THAN are providing competing services, the decision to form an alliance was purely a selfless decision-providing easily accessible, safe and secure motorcycle operations to Lagosians.

Giving the three core reasons for the formation of alliance they said if you look at the proliferation of motorbikes in the city of Lagos, there is a need to challenge Lagosians to begin to demand more from motorcycle riders, such as high quality riders, ensuring that the riders are in the best state of mind when they are riding, knowing that they can demand safety tools from riders, and more importantly should be able to make complaints when they are dissatisfied with the service they have gotten.

"So our first objective is to sensitise Lagosians that safety is their personal responsibility.

Second, is also to begin to educate riders that they have a responsibility to be safe and keep their passengers safe always. Sometimes, riders put themselves under very stressful circumstances just in pursuit of their livelihood, without regard for their own personal safety. While we understand the need to make money, we believe that the riders themselves need to be educated adequately on the importance of their personal responsibility for safety.

"Lastly, is in the area of collaborating with government to help achieve the status and vision of a smart city that it desires. And we know that technology plays an important role in the development of a smart city, which is the baseline competence of every member of this alliance. So for us, the alliance is about providing a common technology infrastructural support to the government based on insights from our ongoing daily business operations," they posited.

On the changes and modifications their mode of operations have brought to the motor-bike transportation service, they said: "Stay on course generally around safety (tight driver recruitment and training, speed control, safety tools, hygiene tools, tracking) and security (real time monitoring, verified and background-checked identity of riders, performance rating system)."

On the measures they have in place to ensure that their riders abide by the laws of the state with regards where| where-not, how|how-not to operate in the state, they revealed that they have an "in-built system of performance rating of drivers, continuous training and retraining of drivers, real time tracking of drivers behavior, consistent communication with drivers, and disciplinary measures for erring riders."

Interface with Government

According to THAN, from time to time, they are carried along in developments in the transportation sector by the ministry of transport, as well as areas of improvement the ministry wants us as a whole to improve upon.

"We have had interfaces individually with Mr. Governor, and at his instance had interface as a group with the Senior Special Adviser on Transportation. The reasons for our engagements have always varied, sometimes regulatory, sometimes advisory, and other times we are basically just seeking the government's support."

Disciplinary Actions

On disciplinary actions they subject riders to if reported and found to be violating any of the laid down rules they said: "Considering there isn't a unified code of disciplinary action across all players. Would be best individual players speak to the specific nature of disciplinary actions in their organisation. As an alliance, we are trying to self-regulate and ensure we can a unified disciplinary code across board so that riders can know that whichever platform they jump to, their infractions are going to be treated similarly".

Stance on Safety

Their stance on safety remains 100 per cent compliance with safety and security rules. They said: "Overall, as an industry, we have raised standards of living of our drivers by over 100 per cent across all players. We provide brand new bikes that are compliant, to our drivers, as well as comprehensive maintenance using manufacturers' spare parts to ensure the bikes are in great conditions and are not prone to accidents while on the road.

"Furthermore, the drivers are tested, trained, and well kitted. They use safety certified helmets for themselves and their passenger (compulsory for every passenger to wear a helmet before the driver can start the ride). They even provide a hairnet for hygiene purposes.

"In reinstating our stance on safety, one of our members has also launched, a rapid response medical service to help administer first aid to cases of accident and her victims before getting them to the hospitals for proper medical attention.

In the same vein, we have been very collaborative with Nigerian Police in ensuring their smooth operations. This is to encourage the force and ease their operations in ensuring that the city of Lagos remains safe.

"We are all working towards the goal of making transport easily, safely and securely accessible for Lagosians. As an industry, we're proud to be at the forefront of a sector that is changing exponentially and look forward to being a part of its continued evolution with a guarantee that Lagosians can continue to depend on us to set the pace for safe and secure motorcyle transportation in the state.

Specifics

The specifics of the superiority in the alliance is that every trip is monitored with technology. This they said gives them the ability to analyse what happens on every trip from start to finish. "We are able to know when they do hard acceleration, excessive banking, overspeeding or phone usage while on a trip."

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