By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State government’s partner, E-hailing Transport Initiative, LagRide Scheme, has called on Governor Sanwo-Olu to intervention over the forcible take over of 21 of its vehicles by Ibile Holdings.
National president of Professional E-Hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association, PEDPA, Comrade Idris Shonuga, made the call at a briefing in Lagos yesterday.
He alleged that the new Managing Director of Ibile Holding Company, Mr. Tobi Lawal, had earlier in the week, in a Gestapo manner, using p olicemen attached to the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad, RRS, forcibly took over the vehicles from investors (partners) in the Ajah area of Lagos, which were legally covered by the state government on a four-year repayment plan.
Shonuga said he was invited to the Ibile office by the MD on the fateful day, based on plan to discuss the operations of the business, but was threatened to return all the vehicles acquired through him by investors for the purpose of handing them over to drivers who will assume ownership, after the earlier investors had each invested over N1million.
“The creation of the LagRide came to correct some of the anomalies experienced by Uber and Bolt drivers who were heavily manipulated by the foreign companies operating them without subjection to our labour regulations, leading to so many agitations by the drivers who wanted better operating deal.
“However drivers who were supposed to be the original beneficiaries of the scheme could not come up with 5 per cent of N1.8million, amounting to N90, 000 demanded by Polaris Bank as equity payment for the credit facilities to aid drivers in accessing the ride.
”But at the end, only 50 drivers were able to afford it, so we had to bring in investors, who are referred to as partners, to make the payments for the acquisition of the vehicles and afterwards sub-let to drivers, making the scheme to eventually take off after six-months of calls to drivers without responses.
“By the introduction of the investor arrangement, the LagRide scheme, therefore, involves three parties – the drivers, the investors and the App management company.
Ibile Holdings MD reacts
Reacting to the reason behind the takeover, the Managing Director of Ibile Holdings, Tobi Lawal, said his mission as the MD was to correct some of the anomalies discovered with the LagRide operations, especially the involvement of partners which, according to him “is alien to the original plan of the government.”
He said: “The original idea for the creation of the LagRide scheme is to empower unemployed young graduates expected to acquire the vehicles for commercial transportation purpose, but the plan was abrogated with the introduction of the partners, with the connivance of some Ibile Holding staff, by fleet management companies, even when the design of the scheme did not factor in the use of fleet management companies.
“Whatever agreement that is existing hitherto between Ibile Holding Company in respect of the use of partners and investors is not binding as long as it is not signed by either the managing director or the company secretary who are the authorising authorities. I have decided to retrieve those vehicles for handover to drivers.”