Uber responds to threat by Lagos govt. to clamp down on cabs

Photo credit: lagosmade.com
Photo credit: lagosmade.com

Uber, a U.S. online transportation company, has said the recent threat by the Lagos State government to clamp down on its cabs was due to the government’s erroneous classification of the vehicles under its platform as taxis.

Ebi Atawodi, General Manager of Uber West Africa, said Wednesday that the company operates Cab Hire Services; and not taxis which the Lagos State Traffic Law seeks to regulate.

“A taxi driver negotiates fares off the road but a car hire service must be pre-booked,” said Ms. Atawodi, responding to a PREMIUM TIMES question during a meeting with the media in Lagos.

“This is a global definition across the world. So in normal cities, in London, in Dubai, New York, France, you always have taxi with what you call the sputnik, which is the light on the top, probably markings and the numbers and so on. And you will have your car hire service, in the UK and other places it’s called mini-cab, where it’s unmarked, you call you pre-book.

“The fundamental difference is that you’re pre-booking by app, as opposed to calling. A car hire service cannot go on the road and flag people down. Why is that? The pre-booked service shows that somebody has taken responsibility of checking certain requirements: this person is who they said they are, this is the licence plate number, this is the driver’s phone number. Otherwise, people will just pick people off the road and you can imagine what will happen to them.”

The Lagos State government recently threatened to begin a crackdown on cabs under the Uber platform, accusing the drivers of failing to pay for taxi licences.

Anofiu Elegushi, Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, said Uber drivers were required to pay N100,000 per car for a franchise license, and an annual renewal fee of N30,000 per car.

He said the company owed the state government about N600 million for not properly registering its business.

“We have started clamping down on the vehicles that operate under the Uber app without registration,” Mr. Elegushi had told CNNMoney last September.

The Lagos State House of Assembly in 2015 passed the Road Traffic Regulations on Taxi Operations in Lagos State to regulate commercial transportation in the state. The regulations stipulate that in addition to meeting the provisions of Section 40 of the Road Traffic Law, all taxi operators must register their details with the Ministry of Transportation and be issued with a licence. Drivers must also have a third party insurance; hackney permit; and a vehicle not older than 12 years at the time of registration.

“The objective of that bill was to sanitise the taxi industry and make sure you document who is who, so when you enter a taxi you can call someone and say this is the number of the taxi I got. There is actually somebody you can go to, it is not somebody who just painted his car yellow and black,” Ms. Atawodi said.

“When that bill first came out, the assumption was that it was a taxi bill to regulate taxis. And that’s where the mismatch came in, because, actually, it wasn’t very clear what taxi was being defined as because by the federal government basis, taxi is something picked off the road.”

Ms. Atawodi said Uber is “100 percent” behind government regulations and had begun an active engagement with several Lagos government ministries and parastatals.


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  • aisha ani

    Guess who is going to pay the 100,000.00 per car, the consumers that are already suffering. It is time to retire APC/ACN/AD from Lagos state.

    • August Twentynine

      So which political party is better than APC,ACN and AD since 1999 in Lagos that can take over the government? Pls I need a reply.

  • www.electionoffenders.ng

    Lagos State must check what the practice is in other nations of the world.

    Yes Uber should pay taxes on its operations but to require a no-taxi operator that offers his car to the public on a part time basis to get a license from Lagos State Government? I’m not so sure that is the right direction.

    Generating IGR is important but the LASG is becoming obnoxious in the aggressive way they get about these things.

    Let Uber pay taxes BUT leave them to operate freely. Government in Nigeria destroys what they touch!

    • August Twentynine

      Uber can only talk that trash in Nigeria because will don’t have good government, here in UK every Uber driver are subject to proper security vetting and some time it takes up to nine month before they could get license to operate under Uber especially in London and they have to have a car no less than four years old and plus they have to do a special MOT different from normal cars on the street of London, drivers pay for all this things before they could get a cab license, so I believe Uber in Nigeria need to check with their counterparts in UK and America before they start misleading their customers and make government look bad.

      • LadyRosely

        Kill the business. Increase unemployment. Useless country

        • Yemi

          Indeed, and this governor in Lagos is very fond of that. Having killed, or currently killing the businesses of small traders everywhere, he’s now moving on to bigger fish.

          • LadyRosely

            It hurts. Government taxes at times should be used to stimulate businesses not kill them

    • jide

      the only thing i read was your first sentence and i stopped because you are the example of a copy cat , you cant come up with solutions on your own you have to check other countries like they are 100% perfect, dumb boy.

  • Abdul

    Government always look for ways to kill business. I dont understand the kind of leaders we have in Nigeria. Govt shouldnt be all about sniffing the life out of businesses because you have the power. As a govt you must consider the value of business to your revenue generation drive on the one hand and the value of the business to poverty reduction and job creation, a wise leader BALANCE THE 2.

    Yes uber should pay taxes but to classify them as taxi is silly. Car hire service is very different from flag down taxis and by the way, asking vehicle to register at #100,000 and renew licence at #30,000 annually is wicked. Where is incentive that drives expansion and additional job creation?

  • dami

    Lagos state is only trying to protect metro taxi – selfish idiots they are….but then again what’s new..???
    Secondly Uber is not a transportation company, they are a technology company as they own no cars or cabs.

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