Lagosians react as Ekocab CEO speaks on involvement with govt

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Segun Cole, the CEO of Ekocab Nigeria, whose company is in the middle of a controversy involvement ride-hailing services in Lagos, has spoken.

Recall that the company recently partnered the state government to launch ekocab, a ride-hailing platform to connect regular yellow taxi drivers with commuters in the state.

Many commentators who took to social media accused the state government of plotting to force other ride-hailing platforms – Uber, Bolt (formerly Taxify) – out of business to pave way for ekocab.

But in a flurry of tweets on Wednesday, Cole explained that fears over government’s involvement in ekocab were unjustified, saying it was solely privately owned.

Also speaking on his pedigree, he said, “I have been a policy Consultant on New Mobility to State Governments, advising them on how to better regulate the industry and proffering solutions”.

Explaining how ekocab came about, he said, “Sometime back 2015, Uber refused to be categorised as a Transport Operator, called themselves a digital App connecting riders and drivers only. They created this messaging Architecture and it was established globally.

“Lagos State wanted to better understand their operations and bring them under the Tax Infrastructure. We advised them to set up a Sandbox framework, while collecting data to help them study the operations. They did.

“On the other hand, local taxis, including Metro/Red and the rest were complaining of diminishing profit margins and source of income. The argument was that this was their major source of Income, unlike Uber drivers that did this as part-time mostly.

“So we advised the regulators to tell these other players to go develop their own tech, so the regulators can then draft regulations that regulate all Digital Apps, whether Uber or owned by players that owned cars.

“Just one problem: the technology was expensive. That’s when I offered to develop this App, that onboarded all drivers from all other players that can’t afford to develop their own App. It was the M-a-a-s model.

“The government agreed and introduced us to these players. First of them are the yellow taxis. We wanted to give them a fighting chance, help them upgrade. We understand it’s going to take more than just technology, so we trained and also did culture re-orientation for them.

“We only trained 100, that were tech-savvy and cars that met the standard (AC +). Most of these cars are unbranded, the media only took pictures of yellow pick up backs.

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“To put this in proper context, ekocab is open to private cars. It’s two offerings: local and private cars. A step beyond Uber’s model. We ran successful pilot tests around Surulere last year.

“I have been involved in every stakeholders engagement with the government. This has nothing to do with any clampdown on Uber/Bolt. I took advantage of the timing like any business person would do. Bolt/Uber, heck even Fahim Saleh of GoKada are my friends.

“Why I think there is pressure from some corners of Ekocab is that we are going to be providing the regulators a dashboard to better track Commuter Traffic Patterns, to better help solve traffic problems.

“This Mobility data would also provide information like accidents rates, speed rates, and e.t.c. This doesn’t sit well with some folks, because this can also reveal some information that would expose shady activity.

“Away from Mobility data. Our prices are certainly cheaper, and our 12% Commission is lower than what’s available.

“I plan to incorporate Boats, EV logistics and food delivery services. The name would change eventually to incorporate the vision.

“This has been bootstrapped with our money and sweat. We haven’t had a dime from any Investors. We did this on purpose, demon investors everywhere.

“For Online Media presence and controlling the narrative, yes I agree, I have scored F9. Those that covered the launch on Twitter deliberately left out the fact where we announced the app would be going live on the 17th. We wanted to make sure demand met supply.

“This is a Nigerian company, owned by Nigerians. I am a Lagos Isale Eko boy. I wanted to show that a Nigerian company can give other Nigerian entrepreneurs hope when placed against foreigner companies with billions of dollars.

“I am not against Uber and Bolt or Opay, the road is big enough (We all contribute to congestion though) I wish every player the best.

” I can’t speak for the government. What I can say is this: this isn’t government owned. No powerful person in the government owns this. Lobbying isn’t Illegal. Every player should be deliberate about collaboration with regulators.”

But many Lagosians are not convinced by the explanations given, and they took to social media to make their views known.

Read comments monitored on Twitter:

 

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