2019 was a big year for ride-hailing startups in Lagos. The city’s 21 million inhabitants were an attractive market for startups like Gokada, Max NG and ORide from Opera.
In May 2019, Gokada raised $5.3 million in Series A funding to increase its fleet and ride volume. It also had plans to introduce Gokada clubs and shops where drivers could relax or buy items. Again in June, Max NG attracted a $7 million investment to expand to 10 cities in West Africa, scale its technology infrastructure and introduce an electric fleet. ORide also benefited from the $50 million and $120 million its parent company Opera raised for its digital service verticals in July and November 2019, respectively. Branded helmets of the different ride-hailing players were common on the streets of Lagos.
But all of this came to a screeching halt when Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s government enforced its 2018 Transit Sector Reform Law which banned motorcycles (okada) from major highways in Lagos, citing safety and security concerns.
Faced with the prospect of winding down operations, ride-hailing startups laid-off workers and began selling off motorcycle