Motorcycle-hailing startups are battling each other—and the law—to win in Africa’s largest city

When a customer scrolls through the options on a ride-hailing app in Lagos, Africa’s largest city, cars are no longer the only things that show up.

Over the past 18 months, motorcycle-hailing startups have become players in the city’s tech ecosystem, all competing for traction and market share in a city beset with some of the continent’s worst transportation challenges. By itself, the idea of an on-demand, flexible transport service to get around Lagos’ hours-long traffic jams and congestion is an appealing proposition for millions of Lagosians. It’s also cheaper compared with established car-hailing services like Uber and Taxify.

To be clear, commercial transport motorcycles, known locally as okadas have long existed in Lagos, like in many other African cities where they have names like boda boda or moto. However, while okadasare known for being reckless at the expense of their passengers’ well-being, the relatively new motorcycle-hailing companies are trying to position their new services as the safer option. They emphasize features like carrying one passenger at a time, insist on passengers wearing helmets and training their motorcyclists or riders to comply with traffic laws.

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