Motorcyclists popularly known as “Okada riders” is the profession that is acclaimed to be the largest employer of labour in Nigeria. The Ogun State Wing of the Okada Riders Union (ACOMORAN) recently had its first outing in the state and the event was supported by Bajaj Motorcycles. After the event which held at DLK Events Centre in Abeokuta, the state capital, Managing Director of Bajaj Monish K. Lakani an Indian, addressed the newsmen about the company’s special interest on the safety and efficiency of the Okada riders, wellbeing of Nigerian women, and more….. Enjoy
Nigeria Is Presently Planning The Localization Of Products In The Country, How Are You Trying To Localize The Production Of Bajaj Products In Nigeria?
Presently, we are actually the bonafide motorcycle company that is assembling in Nigeria. Here in Lagos, we have more than 2000 staff that are earning a living on a daily basis, I will like to make a point here and I stand to be corrected, all other motorcycle companies in Nigeria do not assemble their products in Nigeria, they make a finished product and ship it down here, while they enjoy all the benefit, people like us have invested fortune into the economy of this nation by those direct and indirect employment, thereby solving in our own little way the unemployment challenge.
I am saying this because I am a business man, not to tarnish the image of those firms but to promote my own business, Bajaj have the interest of this nation at heart, which is why I think something should be done about those that are not contributing to the economy and yet benefit from the nation. I mean they should make sure that they comply or they should not get the benefit.
Apart from Lagos where your products are being assembled, are you also considering other states in Nigeria for this kind of enterprise?
I call the ACOMORAN southwest chairman Alhaji Samusideen Apelogun “All-rounder”, he is my very good friend and the only one that I have in Nigeria, because he has given me what others cannot give, he has helped the company a lot by giving us sales that we are not experiencing anywhere else in Nigeria, he has been fighting for the interest of his people, that is why we cannot but contribute to the success of ACOMORAN in Nigeria especially in Ogun state because of All-rounder, that is the example of what you are seeing here today. As the major sponsor of ACOMORAN DAY 2016, we made fabulous prizes like tricycle, motorcycle, Tricycle and Motorcycle parts and other things available which was won by lucky winners at the event. I came all the way from India because of this event just to show how much I have the interest if motorcycle riders and owners at heart. And most importantly All-rounder influenced the our decision to contribute the sum of 10m donated for the Dr Mrs Olufunso Amosun UPLIFTing pet project in Ogun state, with his interest in his colleagues, the people of Ogun state and the government at large, so what we need to do is to bring investment projects into Ogun state and this will be a long time progress.
Do you mean we should be expecting Bajaj company in Ogun state?
Thank you for that wonderful question, it is in our plan to do that. To shock you, Ogun state is going to be the next point for us, at this point we will need the support of the state government to create an
enabling environment for us to operate, we are ready to bring investment programme down to the state, and when I say investment programme I mean long term partnership. So, without the support of
Ogun State government and ACOMORAN and good people of OGUN stare we are powerless. I commend the effort of the president Muhammad Buhari for taking the bull by the horn in fighting corruption in the nation because genuine business like us will only prosper tremendously in a corruption free nation, with this bold step all the companies, politicians and individuals behind the corrupted system will be flushed out, this will help us to capture the two wheelers and tree wheelers market in Nigeria and then we can introduce our other products like four wheelers.
What are the programme you have in the pipeline to fulfil your pledge to support okada riders?
There has been complains from Okada riders that that they don’t get adequate and efficient treatment from hospitals and so far the Okada riders have been involved in multiple accidents which has portrayed the business and profession as risky, that is why we have Road safety initiative programme. This initiative is to train the users to maintain safety standards, we all came from different backgrounds, different opinion, and different level of education, all of us cannot think or act the same, we all work to send our children to school and these children relates with different people in the society, that is why we are set to touch the transportation, health and education aspect of t the society, we will re-orientate the Okada riders and let them see the dignity in their labour. They are not tout or hooligans but businessmen, I want them to see their profession as a profession not to be looked down upon. Investing in education to train them on how to maintain road safety standards will help us to keep Okada riders and motorcycle related accident out of hospital. Meanwhile, we will make sure that anyone that is under the influence of alcohol will not be allowed to ride, there is going to be riders check to know if you are fit to ride or not. All these are a long term progresses that shows that we have the interest of the okada riders and the good people of Nigeria at heart.
Has the decision to ban okada riders in some parts of the nation affected your sales?
Not at all, in fact it has even increased it, I thank the decision makers because all these is still about maintaining road safety standards, it is just that all the educated and high class in society should also know that if you are not creating an alternative for these people and you sending them out of business, that will make the people to go hungry, we are also safety conscious that is why we are also going into the four wheelers. One more important thing that is very close to my heart is the upliftment and empowerment of women. Our company just made a contribution of 10million naira today and I will ensure that money gets to right person in the society, I don’t have a sister or a daughter if I have them I would have been passionate with them, so all the women in Nigeria are my sisters and daughters.
You said you operate in other 48 countries in Africa, which country has your largest customer base?
Definitely Nigeria is the best and largest customers out of all, here our product is tested to the end, in the time past we experience tough competition which affected our sales, and tricycle has been the major sufferer in our business, but in last 3 months we have bounced back. This has helped us because our customers stretch us to the end, now I can proudly say Bajaj is definitely the number one tricycle in the world.