What are your main areas of business today?
The two areas of our business that we want to focus on in the next phase of growth are Metro Taxis and Metro Buses, because these represent real value for all of our stakeholders. For the first time, we will be able to provide buses to commuters in Lagos that are comparable with any developed city around the world. Moreover, we will be able to provide local content for those buses in terms of manufacturing and assembly, as well as support for the buses and key acquisition for organizations working out of those locations. This initiative will of course have a complementary effect for tire trading and spare parts manufacturing. That represents a huge gain for the Lagos government, for the people of Lagos, and also for the rest of Nigeria, because it is scalable and can go to all of the other cities.
How has Philly and Mools developed, and what motivated your entry into the mass transit segment?
We did not want to run a taxi company, we wanted to advocate for the taxis that were already in Lagos, because we already had experience with financial institutions and we were also an existing car dealership. We wanted to increase the fleet size, add newer vehicles, and be a bit more representative of fleets in major cities all over the world. Taxis represent a part of the culture of a city; Londoners ride in the Black Cabs, which are not found anywhere else, and New York has the Yellow Taxi. We started with 50 vehicles, and now we have more than 480 vehicles with a fully-fledged dispatch system. We noticed that bus transportation was also a huge issue in Lagos, so we approached the Lagos governor and proposed bringing in 500 buses. We currently have eight routes out of the 22 that we have set as a target to achieve. We have successfully deployed 150 out of 500 buses, and we deploy them in phases of 50.
What progress are you making towards meeting the demand for buses in Lagos?
There is a huge drive to encourage people to get on buses and out of their personal vehicles. We aim to reduce gas emissions by reducing the number of vehicles on the road, by being environmentally responsible, and by building a sustainable transport system. A 21km road in Lagos has the capacity to efficiently move 800 buses, as opposed to 5,000 individual personal vehicles. Mass transit also creates jobs and trains the workforce in new skill sets. For every bus that we put on the road, we create jobs for about seven or eight people—drivers, a mechanical team, an electrical team, a body shop team, and refrigeration team for the air conditioner, as well as indirect employment for spare parts suppliers, logistics companies, and the back-office employment, such as human resources and finance. In terms of the next three to four years, Lagos State will need no less than 3,000 buses to effectively cover the length and breadth of Lagos. Lagos has pockets of suburbs and entry points into Lagos where people have to commute daily to and from the center. There are huge opportunities for growth there and it is one way that we can transform the city.
What are your expectations for the year ahead?
Metro Taxi will build a new strategy. Uber is now in Lagos, which is changing the business model in the areas where they have operations. We will develop a bus application to be used not just by Metro Taxi would use, but by the whole taxi industry. Our market is growing and new routes need to be opened with more buses put on the road. Transportation is a major part of the new government's policies, and they want to open develop the sector in Lagos.