Last week Gokada, the popular motorbike hailing service, announced the suspension of its operations in Lagos. The move saw Gokada shut down its app and withdraw its bikes from the road, as it embarks on a rebranding journey.
Barely a day after the announcement, Nairametrics reported that the temporary shutdown might have been because of targeted poaching of some of Gokada’s riders and senior executives by competitor, ORide.
According to the report, ORide is able to attract Gokada riders in droves with better payment and sign up packages to the tune of ₦35,000.
Techpoint has since engaged riders of ORide bikes and it turns out some of them were indeed previously with Gokada. As for the executives, a source close to ORide informed Techpoint that their appointments came with better remuneration packages.
Falim Saleh, Gokada CEO, highlighted increased competition, regulatory hurdles and operational issues as factors responsible for the rebranding move. But could increased competition be the underlying factor?
As the latest player to enter the bike-hailing scene, ORide has eased its entrance with incentives ranging from ridiculously cheap rides to discounts and low daily remits for riders.
One rider that spoke with Techpoint noted that ORide’s bikers are expected to remit only ₦1,500 ($4.12) daily for the first two months after which they will be required to pay the standardised ₦3,000 (approximately $8.25) fee.
It's only been a month and a couple of days since this rider left Gokada for ORide, but he has since benefitted from the latter's flexible daily remit structure and a ₦35,000 ($96.21) sign up bonus.
These activities are enough to force any competitors back to the drawing board, as is apparently the case with Gokada. But in its comeback, there are indications that Gokada may replace their bikes with new ones that have features that enhance safety and ease of navigation.
One prominent issue raised by Gokada’s founder was the problem riders have with navigation; to solve this problem, he hinted at ''sexy bikes', with maximum speed and new Bluetooth helmets.
In the course of our investigation, a close source to ORide first attested to this possibility. And then while engaging the ORide bikers, one of them further alluded to the possibility of "better bikes" from Gokada in the wake of its comeback.
MAX Okada, a pioneer bike-hailing service in Nigeria, already has higher-powered bikes deployed to the road but it is unlikely that ORide spared them in the massive onslaught against its competitors. This leaves motorcycles with helmet navigation-enhancing features as a possible option.
The nature of bikes makes helmets with navigation features seem like a good product-fit for ride-hailing companies because they reduce reliance on phones during navigation thus enhancing safety.
However, such helmets vary in type and price ranging between $700 and $3000. Incidentally, regular 200cc capacity bikes typically used by ORide and Gokada cost around ₦450,000 ($1200). This means that the possibility of a Gokada comeback on a massive scale with navigation enhancing helmets could be hampered by cost.
In the event that it is able to navigate this hurdle, Gokada would still have to match the spending power of OPay, ORide's parent company.
Interestingly, this fact isn't lost on some of ORide’s bike riders, as one of them pointed it out during the interaction with Techpoint.
Since emerging on the scene ORide has been aggressive with its approach, launching in cities like Akure and Ibadan; given OPay's financial war chest of $50 million, one wonders how far ORide would go with spending.
However, in a space that has been full of twists and surprises, one can hope for anything.