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Lagos taxi drivers set to compete with e-hailers

By Benjamin Alade
18 December 2020   |   3:44 am
The Lagos State Taxi Drivers and Cab Operators Association (LSTDCOA) has called on the state government through the ministry of transportation to grant members access to operate across the state.

Dr Adeniyi presenting an award to President, LSTDCOA, Omolekan Taiwo while members of the association looks on.

• Unveils ‘Baba dey online’ as commitment to innovation

The Lagos State Taxi Drivers and Cab Operators Association (LSTDCOA) has called on the state government through the ministry of transportation to grant members access to operate across the state.

LSTDCOA called on authorities to give all operators level playing ground by allowing yellow taxi access into all residential estates just as it appealed to the state government to fix deplorable roads in the metropolis.

The emergence of ride-hailing companies has posed a threat to the traditional taxi business across the globe. As a result, there is growing apathy for local taxi operators as riders often opt for e-hailers.

From America to Europe, local taxi operators have protested the crippling impact the innovative app-based taxis have on their livelihoods, as commuters prefer the ease the technology-based model offers.

Nigerian cab operators have also had their share of the declining patronage. But rather than continuing in navel-gazing, they are going digital in a bid to regain their market share.

To this end, LSTDCOA has partnered Univasa Nigeria Limited, an information technology company, to launch an online app to aid road travel within the metropolis. The application has the same features as those of Uber and Bolt and it is expected to take off in two weeks.

‘Baba Dey Online’ is a ride-hailing feature on its Univasa user application, downloadable on IOS and Google PlayStore. Speaking at the unveiling session, President, LSTDCOA, Omolekan Taiwo, said the partnership with Univasa shows that the association is willing to embrace technology in its operation across 283 parks and 16 branches in the state.

Taiwo said technology is the ultimate. With the innovation, he said, the operators are going to change the perception of people about them. Many people believe that the majority of taxi drivers cannot read and write or are not amenable to new technology.

In his words: “Our major problem has been accessing estates in Lagos and access to local and international airports. Before now, we had access to all places in Lagos but after the emergence of e-hailing rides, yellow taxis were denied access even to enter University of Lagos premises.

Omolekan said talks are in place to get a car loan facility of N500 million for the association to compete with other online ride applications.

“When you get a loan facility of 500 million and you are denied access to some areas, how are you going to pay back such money?” he queried. Taiwo urged the state government to allow drivers using the Univasa application an equal ground to access all roads and estates as practiced by other ride-hailing drivers.

“Since I emerged, the development of this association has been my priority. We have been in this business for a long time; we won’t allow newcomers in this line to take credit for the profession we are known for. Our mission is to improve on our practices and call back all members who left to return to this job and sustain it,” he said.

“Univasa taxi apps came on board at the right time; we are ready to embrace technology for all our drivers and the general public for usage. We are going to bring back all our members that have left the association due to lack of technologies based apps into our folds,” he said.

In his remark, Chief Executive Officer, Univasa, Ben Adeniyi, said the company developed the platform as a result of hunger for innovation and technology. He said the company is making efforts to support drivers with mobile devices and modern taxi vehicles through some partnership deals.

“Today, we are officially launching the app for users to download on IOS and Google PlayStore. This innovation will ease the stress of those who visit the taxi parks to order rides. We are leveraging on the perspective of the public to name this ‘Baba Dey Online’,” he said.

Adeniyi said efforts are ongoing to end discrimination against taxi drivers in the area of accessing major areas such as the local and international airports.

He said the company would invest in training taxi drivers to adapt to the new system, adding that the platform will provide both online and offline services to users. He added that among others, the application has a feedback rating system that allows users to react to services provided by taxi drivers.