Days after the successful completion of $5.3 million Series A funding from investors, Nigeria’s on-demand bike-hailing startup, Gokada, has announced plans to scale its operations with the launch of yacht boat services, GBoat, in Lagos.
According to Gokada, the boat service will provide comfortable transportation services while helping commuters to beat traffic. According to the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, Lagos is home to over 24 million residents with over 2 million vehicles plying the roads daily. The pilot scheme from Gokada is targeted at commuters who ply between Lekki and Ikorodu axis.
Potential in water transportation services remains largely untapped in Lagos, while few current operators do not provide top-notch services to commuters, issues of safety have also plagued these operators as cases of boat mishaps claiming lives are occasionally recorded.
Emeka Orji, a commuter, believes that if any disruption is going to take place in that market, potential players must be ready to innovate and reposition by addressing safety, pricing and quality issues among others.
Esther Obianuju said investment needs to also go into new jetties and boat piers, proper training of staff for emergencies and strict compliance to marine craft piloting.
“Fifth of the land mass of Lagos is water and it is grossly underutilized. Safety and regulation need to be sorted out, of course, but this is clearly the future.” She said.
Gokada said it has trained and on-boarded more than 1,000 motorcycles and their pilots on its app that connects commuters to moto-taxis
The startup has also completed nearly 1 million rides since it was co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who previously founded and exited Pathao, a motorcycle, bicycle, and car transportation company.
Gokada will use the financing to increase its fleet and ride volume while developing a network to offer goods and services to its drivers. “We’re going to start a Gokada club in each of the cities with a restaurant where drivers can relax, and we’ll experiment with a Gokada Shop, where drivers can get things they need on a regular basis, such as plantains, yams, and rice,” Saleh told TechCrunch.
The startup differs from other ride-hail ventures in that it doesn’t split fare revenue with drivers. Gokada charges drivers a flat-fee of 3,000 Nigerian Naira a day (around $8) to work on their platform. The company is looking to generate a larger share of its revenue from building a commercial network around its rider community.
“We don’t do anything with the fares. We want to create an Amazon Prime-type membership…and ecosystem around the driver where we’re going to provide them more and more services, such as motorcycle insurance, maintenance, personal life-insurance, and micro-finance loans,” Saleh said.