A TECHNICAL consultant with Lagos Ride, Tumi Adeyemi, has dismissed claims made by some drivers, under the umbrella of Professional E-hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association of Nigeria (PEDPAN), who alleged that the scheme has been hijacked and transferred to the hands of private individuals and cabals.
Adeyemi, who is the founder of Zenolynk Technology and head of the solutions which LagRide uses, told our correspondent in an exclusive interview in his office on Lagos Island that PEDPAN allegations were false.
He alleged that the drivers had attempted to bully their employer into working with a union, which he maintained was not part of the LagRide’s goals.
He said, “Essentially the substance of the allegation is not only ridiculous, it is also completely false. This is because they were trying to bully us into a formal obligation they cannot substantiate or back. I would like to still sit with those guys on the table and describe what it means to deal with the union, which is where all that is coming from.”
PEDPAN, through its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jossy Olawale, had in a statement, called on the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, to save LagRide from the “hands of cabals”, alleging that the 1,000-pilot car programme had been poorly managed by people who it said did not have the knowledge of how the e-hailing business works. It also described the ride mobility service as a means of “exploitation.”
The statement read, “The Professional E-hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association of Nigeria (PEDPAN), under the leadership of comrade Moses Jolaiya, is using this opportunity to call the attention of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation to as a matter of urgency and in the interest of tax payers in Lagos State to probe the reasons why the over 1000 cars acquired for the purpose of Smart City Movement Initiative are currently not operating effectively on Lagos road as expected, but are rather ending up in the hands of private individuals and allies of cabal who have little or nothing to do with e-hailing transportation services in the State.
“Contrary to the actual model upon which the Lag-ride modern transportation system was initiated where PEDPAN offered an expertise knowledge into the development and design of the app features and strategy, we have observed that the project has been hijacked by some elements with the intention to sabotage the real developmental and empowerment programmes of the administration of Governor Sanwo-Olu and, as a result, the targeted beneficiaries of the scheme could not access the programme due to unreasonable and hostile conditions created by these conspirators.
“The original arrangement between PEDPAN and LagRide management, which was circumvented, was that PEDPAN, in conjunction with Yellow Taxi Association, will provide verified members to acquire the LagRide cars, while the equity contribution will be provided by the government through the recommended banks in form of a loan facility, the total sum payable within four years, hence it’s called Lagos Smart City Empowerment Programme. But, in a selfish move by this cabal, a private company called Kalidola Logistic Limited collaborated with LagRide in place of the stakeholder associations and this automatically prevented the project from getting to the hand of the planned beneficiaries.”
But Adeyemi alleged that the drivers wanted to obtain the cars for free, which he said was not possible.
The drivers, he explained, were each required to pay 20 per cent of the N7.5 cost of the car before they would be given the cars, adding that they were meant to redeem the cost at a 10 per cent interest rate between a minimum of two and a maximum of four years before ownership can be officially transferred to them.
He said, “When we started, we started with 20 per cent down payment of 7.5m, which is the cost of the asset. After that, you will pay back the rest over a period of four years from your fares.
“We amortised your payment daily on the car and not on the technology. If you are on Uber, you will do hire purchase or bring your own car. Twenty per cent of 7.5m is N1.5m, and there is N315,000 that would be paid for registration, insurance, training and other things. All of this was explicitly stated on our website. Every kobo we asked for was well explained in our document. In addition to that, you would start your journey to pay N17,000.
“That N17,000 allows us to do your registration, Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) identity card and Lagos State Drivers Institute (LASDRI) card. It also includes verification of the National Identification Number (NIN). We include security checks.”
Adeyemi said these issues were all contained on the LagRide website for the drivers, whom he said were unwilling to pay N1.5m as the down payment for the cars.
He said the LagRide management spoke with Polaris Bank to provide a facility guaranteed by Ibile Holdings in case some drivers would not be able to pay the initial deposit of N1.5m.
He also said that to enable interested drivers affordability, the interest rate fell from 17.5 per cent to 10 per cent, while the N1.5m equity dropped to N700,000.
The Zenolynk boss said the drivers, however, insisted that the firm should deal with the union. He made reference to the leadership tussles the union had with its embattled president, Idris Shonuga, and said the drivers wanted the firm to side with them, but it refused to dabble into the matter.
“The cars don’t belong to you, the technology doesn’t belong to you, what are you bringing to the table? The platform is open to everyone, but they chose to walk away,” he said.
Adeyemi claimed the scheme was oversubscribed, saying the total number of drivers that downloaded the app was 6,236, while the number of drivers on the scheme was 35,621. He added that of the over 6,000 drivers that downloaded the app, 1,095 had paid verification fees. This figure, he pointed out, was above the 1,000 cars the scheme initially piloted.
“Presently, we are oversubscribed and we will stop all registration by the end of this month because we need to process all of them. Anyone left would be refunded,” he said.