Small bike, big dreams

Commercial motorcycles can serve as a stepping stone for Nigerians looking for employment or capital to start a business. For the importer of motorcycles, the shipping carrier helps by keeping costly inventory at low levels.

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Take a ride with Salomon Kayode, okada driver in Lagos, Nigeria 2:38

Okadas, a local term for commercial motorcycles, are all over Nigeria’s streets. Having a driver with a passenger on the back has become an institution since okadas emerged in the 1980s, and although hazardous drivers have compromised their reputation, their contribution to the transport system in terms of abundance, ability to overcome traffic and accessibility to remote areas is widely recognised.

An okada is also an inexpensive means of trans­portation.

“These motorcycles play an important role in Nigeria. They are cheap and thus more accessible to a large part of the population who does not have a lot of money,” says Manoj Sheth, General Manager at Qingqi Motorcycles Manufacturing Company in Nigeria.

Qingqi Motorcycles sells roughly every third motorcycle in Nigeria. This corresponds to imports of 50 containers with complete knock-down kits (CKD) each month. The bikes are assembled at the Lagos facility.

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“These motorcycles play an important role in Nigeria. They are cheap and thus more accessible to a large part of the population who does not have a lot of money,” says Manoj Sheth, General Manager at Qingqi Motorcycles Manufacturing Company.

Shipping with Safmarine, Manoj Sheth points to the carrier’s online tracking system as something that benefits his business, specifically bringing down the amount of money tied up in inventory.

“Tracking the vessel enables us to confirm delivery to our buyers and start our sales process much earlier. This reduces turnaround time, which is the most important element of our business,” he says.

Starting sales early
Using the vessel’s registration number, which Safmarine makes available via the customs authorities five days before the vessel arrives, Qingqi Motorcycles starts the paperwork and planning, knowing exactly when it will have access to its containers.

“We have provided the answers that customers are looking for online. I think this improves a lot of things for Qingqi Motorcycles and for our other customers as well,” says Omowunmi Ogunbowale, Senior Sales Executive at Safmarine, adding:

“We have had a good rapport with Safmarine for the past five years. Today, 70% of our business goes to Safmarine, and the level of confidence we have in Safmarine is one that we cannot compare with other shipping lines,” says Manoj Sheth.

Studies show that almost 50% of okada riders have a diploma but cannot find employment within their fields of education. Thus the okada trade serves both as temporary employment and a means for entrepreneurs to earn capital to start businesses.