New bus-hailing startup, Plentywaka has expressed as encouraging the business environment even with the Covid-19 pandemic announcing that it has recorded close to 200,000 trips by more than 40,000 riders in its first year. Launched in Lagos in September 2019 as a subsidiary of Crowdyvest Holdings, the parent company of agriculture investment platform, Farmcrowdy, Plentywaka’s Android and iOS apps allow riders book seats and schedule their journeys from one part of the state to another. Riders can pay for their trips using an in-app ‘Wakapurse’ e-wallet.
Plentywaka is among a growing number of bus-hailing services in Lagos that have launched to provide users with a more effective, safe and stress-free alternative to the state’s current public bus transport system.
With only three months in before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the company, as with the global mobility industry was one of the worst hit by lockdowns and the halt in movement of people across the state. Here in Lagos, many taxi and bus-hailing companies closed for business throughout the month of April when lockdows were enforced. Some continued skeletal operations moving essential workers around the state during the period.
When lockdowns were lifted in May, the challenge for bus-hailing companies like Plentywaka was how to drive revenue while adhering to the recommended passenger capacity.
Speaking on the progress made so far, Johny Ena, Managing Director of Plentywaka said that the company has been operating in line with the government’s directives on social distancing, we have adjusted the seating arrangement on our buses adding that “eight riders will be allowed on the 14-seater buses and 16 riders on the 28-seater buses”.
The company temporarily increased fares in May by 20-25% for this reason. It also launched a solution for corporates, Staff Bus Solutions, and a business-to-consumer delivery service Logistics by Plentywaka. It has also extended their presence to Abuja, the country’s capital.
“Since we launched a year ago, we have achieved remarkable milestones and have been able to adapt when faced with unprecedented challenges the 2020 pandemic brought,” Ena said.
“Looking to the year ahead, our goal is to continue to improve the riders’ experience, increase productivity in Nigeria with efficient transportation, and create more jobs and income opportunities through our Plentywaka Vehicle Partnership scheme.”
Efficient transportation is a big challenge for most state governments in the country but more so for Lagos state where some 20 million Nigerians live and work. With the advent of more tech-enabled transport solutions, the state government and these technology startups have long been at loggerheads at how to create regulatory frameworks that guide their operations in the state. The startups have also been at the mercy of fragmented unions, ministries and other government parastatals in charge of various aspects of the transport sector in the state.
Earlier this year, these challenges succeeded in booting motorcycle hailing companies out of the state in the government’s bid to enforce a 2012 law regarding the movement of motorcycles and tricycles.
In what seemed to be a move to order the sector, the government has come up with guidelines for tech-enabled transport companies operating in the state. Motorcycle-taxi companies are not included in this plan because they “are not part of the Lagos masterplan” according to the Lagos state transport commissioner. The guidelines which went into effect in August covers issues around licenses, data collection and dissemination, insurance, among other things.
Over the next 12 months, Plentywaka says it will continue to develop its app, particularly its cashless payment feature still relevant in the post-lockdown period, as well as its GPS technology.