• Abuja residents groan as unregistered dispatch riders pilfer goods, foods
From Idu Jude, Abuja
In Abuja, residents say dispatch riding business is fast losing its allure. This is because it is not has become an all-comers affair. It is not a coordinated space. And criminals have joined the fray and muddied the pond.
There are endless tales of swapped goods and foods. There are allegations of diversion of goods and pilferages.
Poor hygiene of dispatch riders who deliver cooked foods is also part of residents’ concerns. The carriage cabins are often not well sanitised, yet they carry cuisines in them for hours as they dispatch them from place to place.
Residents are calling on law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies to sanitise the dispatch-riding ecosystem so that only registered ones who comply with set standards and recommended practices are allowed to do deliveries.
This is to deal with issues around integrity-deficiency of some of the riders, especially those not duly registered and traceable. The reason police Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) said consumers and traders should patronise duly registered motorcycle dispatchers to avoid tales of woe.
“Though they may be costlier, you’re sure your goods will be delivered as envisaged. Don’t just patronise any bike rider you see. The attraction is usually that the unregistered ones are cheaper but what of safety and integrity issues? We’re arresting and prosecuting many of them”, a FCTA official told Daily Sun.
Miss Mary Kadiri, an intern with Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), said: “I know hunger and unemployment have taken center stage in Nigeria. But we need some coordination around food delivery through motorcycles. A lot of people are worried about hygiene levels. At times, foods are swapped or pilfered.
“I think that one of the cornerstones of their activities is that they can be swift in their operations, that they can handle multiple deliveries in a day. I’m speaking of the genuine ones. But on the flip side, I have my reasons I don’t like to patronise them. And it is because some of them are thieves. They are not trustworthy.
“Experience has shown that some of them do run away with the motorcycles including the food or other items which they found out is expensive. And talking about food business, I don’t feel safe believing that the food would arrive as it was packaged by the seller without the bike dispatch rider tampering with it.
“There have been cases of people complaining that their food was tampered with or the items ordered were missing on transit or incomplete on arrival. Many people have expressed fear over the continued patronage of the business in Nigeria without security assurance from the authorities that such business is safe to do; more especially when it has to do with delivering edible things.
“There was even a case, in which a cyclist was accused of exchanging food from the original eatery where it was ordered to another roadside one. But it was discovered by the recipient.”
Kadiri advised those venturing into logistics or delivery business to first acquire their own motorcycles, insure them and register them with a tracking company before employing riders: “Let there be proper documentation of the employees’ details and the use of sureties is highly necessary before employment.
“I know of cases of individual cyclists working with eateries or supermarkets without proper identification. This is very dangerous.”
Dr Mathias Ayorinde is with a private hospital in Abuja. His observation: “I discovered that so many of these delivery cyclists are not registered with any company nor are they regulated. What they do is to make themselves available to eateries who entrust people’s goods into their hands to deliver. I also discovered that many of them are hustlers who, after the okada ban in the FCT and Lagos, converted theirs to delivery bikes.”
He called on the FCT and Federal Government to ensure proper regulations of cyclists who deliver goods to the public to ensure they live above board in all they do:
“I learnt that the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), is doing something about its operational regulations. My fear is that such regulations are supposed to be put in place first before they commence operations. And it showed the lack of readiness of the government to do healthy businesses.
“It is only in this clime that certain businesses are introduced before laws are made for them. What we are witnessing now is several people delivering goods and more dangerously food items.”
Moses Tyokua, a bolt rider, detested dispatch cyclists’ bad attitudes: “People think even Bolt and Uber drivers can do the same. But let me also corroborate that the cyclists cannot be trusted as they keep lying to the public and their employers.
“One practical example I witnessed was during the fuel scarcity. Bike riders not registered spewed terrible lies to their customers while involved in buying and selling of fuel to motorists.
“We discovered that a great number of them abandoned the job of goods dispatch to indulge in buying fuel from the filling stations and empty it into jerry cans to sell to anxious motorists.
“I have friends who did it but lied to their customers who believed that they were caught up in the fuel scarcity imbroglio. In those days, they were making money from both sides. They were deeply involved in black market sales. When their employers complain of late delivery of goods, they know what lies to tell.
“If a bike rider can be so heartless to abandon his errand and get involved in buying and selling of fuel with a lie that he has been on a fuel queue, then we should be ready for another terrible experience unless the government does something urgently. We also see AMAC staff in a cat and rat race all over the town trying to arrest and prosecute unregistered ones.
“But we should also ask questions why they keep moving around the town no matter the apprehension and arrest. I am also beginning to suspect the AMAC staff who arrest them accept some kickbacks from them because they flood the road very early the following day as if no arrest happened”.
Mrs Ijeoma Toruka-Brown, 56-year old owns an outdoor catering business at Wuse 11 Abuja: “Nigeria is not ripe yet for such business. You can imagine that one had to pay for what she did not eat because an idiot ran away with the food packaged for a customer who ordered it.
“I tried them out several times but in the end, I only sold to those who came around. The only difference is that I have to rent a bigger shop to accommodate the influx of people.”
Hassan Mainasara, a delivery bike rider, said the business is good as no one calls for his credentials, even when he has none to tender if they had requested for one. He had bought a motorcycle to involve in Okada commercial business, but Lagos State banned commercial motorcycle operations shortly after.
Out of frustration, he came over to Abuja and luckily an eatery owner engaged him:
“I own a bike and there is no part of a motorcycle that I have no knowledge of. I can ride and repair it when it goes bad. So, since the company does not have this financial capacity to buy their own bikes, they depend on those of us who have bikes to help them deliver goods.
“Don’t forget that a great number of them started their businesses without the capital to buy bikes so such gave us the edge to be part of the businesses.”
On the allegations of fraudulent acts among his members, Mainasara, denied being involved in such criminal acts. But he did not deny that there would not be people with such characteristics:
“My only advice is that government should put up regulations so as to check notorious criminals among us. As for me, this is the only thing I’m doing now for me to fight hunger and pay school fees for my children. I don’t think it is right for me to close the only available means while defrauding or taking advantage of customers.”