How shared mobility, e-hailing are shaping transportation in Nigeria
From finding a solution to congestion, cutting down on pollution and parking, improving access to transportation for the public good to reducing or avoiding cost of vehicle maintenance, what may be called the future of mobility is gradually becoming a reality in Nigeria, thanks to technology.
While e-hailing is a process of ordering a car, taxi or any other form of transportation pick up through a computer or mobile device, ridesharing is the sharing of vehicles by passengers to reduce vehicle trips, traffic congestion and automobile emissions.
In the past three years, shared transportation as well as e-hailing have grown in major cities in Nigeria, taking advantage of the country’s poor transport system, population and rapid urbanisation and growing environmental, energy and economic concerns.
Transport experts are looking at a future where people share rides and take public transit not because they can’t possibly own a car but because it’s a better option than owning a car. They projected a future, where people have equal access to affordable transportation; where people spend less of their income on cars or commutes and less time stuck behind the wheel; where parking spaces are replaced by parks and affordable housing.
These may include reasons why member of Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Habitat, Obinna Chidoka, stressed the need for Nigeria to allow technology aid safe and reliable rides and limit the negative effects of traffic congestion.
In fact, Chidoka is optimistic that “this resolution is a pivotal step for Nigeria and the critical role technology will play in helping us achieve the ambitions set out towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
According to him, “ridesharing resolution is an important development in reducing the number of cars on our roads, creating thousands of jobs and building sustainable businesses for our country.”
Today, there are about two billion cars in the world, comparable to the total population of China and Europe. And in Nigeria, there are estimated 11 million vehicles, with a Wikipedia analysis showing that there about are 31 vehicles per 1000 people.
But the challenge is not the number of vehicle, it is how they are used. To be sure, the next time you stop in traffic, look at the vehicles next to you; chances are they will have just one person in them or a driver and ‘the owner’. Only four per cent of cars get busy on the road, 96 per cent sits idle making cities use up to a fifth of the land to park vehicles.
These challenges, as well as social, economic and technological trends were projected by experts to work together to disrupt mobility and give birth to new business models and technologies that will solve the challenge of transportation. Apart from global giants like Uber and Taxify, which basically offer e-hailing in Nigeria, locals like Gomyway, Soole, Jekalo, NG-Ride, Ridebliss, Ogataxi and others, are contributing to the global four per cent miles that ride-sharing accounts for.
To the Chief Marketing Officer, Transit Solutions Limited, Itiola Ikudinakin, the time is now when Nigerians must leverage technology to ease the gap in the country’s transport sector.
But as sustainable as the innovation may look, people in emerging markets like Nigeria, hold strong aspirations for personal mobility. Ikudinakin, whose organisation came up with Soole to offer e-hailing and ride sharing believes that the cost of vehicle ownership and the country’s economic situation combined to chart a new path for mobility.
“The buying power of Nigerians has dropped and price of vehicles already gone up. The truth is that people could prefer not to have a car because you could possibly be paying for a driver and maintenance. Owning a vehicle as a status may no longer exist very soon,” Ikudinakin said.
To her, a better future is within grasp and since technology has changed the world mobility will not be excluded, as people deserve to make necessary plans and have access to affordable services at their comfort zone.
As competition buds in the face of poor transportation infrastructure, Co-founder of Gomyway, Damilola Teidi, still see huge potential in the sector, particularly as the players were able to fit their business models to local context.
Her platform already boasts of about 7000 members and offered more than 50000 seats. Unlike Soole, which allows users negotiation for e-hailing through its listed Lagos State Taxi community, Gomyway enables private car owners with spare seats to share a ride with others going their ways.
Teidi said: “In Nigeria people want to own their cars because they don’t want to be seen jumping to enter public transport. But with car sharing, you could enter a nice car and if you eventually own your you could share that as well. So, we already coming to the point where people can say: ‘if I don’t own a car I don’t necessarily have to stress myself because there are confortable cars out there’.”
Security and trust remain key challenges for platforms like hers everywhere in the world, but she is optimistic that wont hold back the development as the platforms make strategic effort to ensure that users are adequately verified.
However, to make e-hailing and car sharing attractive, affordability has be considered. This is crucial to the future of transit because people will only give up their cars if they have affordable and reliable alternatives. individual ownership.
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