The explosion of motorcycles in Nigeria is projected to escalate to new levels as two-wheelers become the main means of transport for the majority of the country’s population.
At this rate, the Okada business could be the largest employer of Lagosians. In a report authored by Standard Bank analyst Simon Freemantle and economist Jeremy Stevens, Nigeria is the largest importer of motorcycles from India followed by Angola with Uganda coming in at third position.
The bulk of Africa’s motorcycles are imported from India, which has a market share of more than 65 percent. India manufactures the Bajaj Boxer and TVS brands, some of the most popular motorcycles across Africa. According to the report, Nigeria imported motorcycles worth ($204m) in 2013.
Some years ago, Nigerians woke up to a new form of transport business – the Okada. The reason for this is the continued growth of traffic in major cities coupled with the fact that commuters continuously search for alternative means to the inconveniencing public transport. It is a known fact that over 60 percent of Nigerians use public transport as their main form of transport.
The above scenario partly explains the growth of the Okada economy in a period of less than 15 years.
Lagos alone has more than 120,000 motorcycles the majority of which are engaged in commercial activities – Okada.
However, the irony is that 60 percent of these motorcycles are not owned by the riders themselves. On a daily basis, an Okada rider who doesn’t own the motorcycle pays a certain amount from what he makes to the owner and keeps the remaining without the hope of owning the motorcycle after a period of time. This is not a favourable condition for the Okada riders who do not own the motorcycles they use for their daily hustle. Private firms like Metro Africa Xpress (MAX), an on-demand motorcycle hailing firm that runs MAX Okada are playing a key role in ensuring that people who ride motorcycles for a living aside from making money daily are able to own the motorcycles after a reasonable period of time.