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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Nowhere to Ride

With most restaurants closed, delivery riders are finding it hard to make ends meet

Written by Surbhi Gupta | April 3, 2020 12:41:42 am
online food delivery, delivery agents, home delivery, india lockdown, zomato, swiggy, indian express news Most companies have instructed their employees to wear gloves and use masks and sanitisers. (Representational Photo)

Zomato delivery rider Tanay Roy, 28, has been waiting to collect an order for the last 40 minutes, in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, but hard luck. “A siren will ring when a new order is assigned, so you’ll know,” he says. As several other riders drive past him, he comments how everyone is having a hard time. “If they had orders to deliver, you would not find them driving so slowly,” says he. Working with Zomato for a year now, he adds, “Usually, if I work for 12 hours, I earn about Rs 1,000. I would make 20 to 30 deliveries a day; now there are not more than two to three.”

He is not alone. Several riders from food delivery companies Zomato and Swiggy can be seen parked along the roads in cities across India. With eateries in the malls shut, there are only a handful standalone restaurants that are sending out takeaways. Most riders are reportedly earning Rs 200 a day, a steep decline from the usual income of Rs 900 to 1,000.

Jaiprakash, father of three, shares that he has made 40 deliveries in the last one week, earning around Rs 2,000, with zero income on March 24, and Rs 20 on March 25, when the nationwide lockdown was followed by reports of delivery personnel being assaulted by the police. “When the police stopped me, I called my team leader, who was busy in a meeting and told me to call later. Since he did not respond, I thought it was better to return home than to be beaten up,” says Jaiprakash. “The next day, when I was on my way to pick an order, a police officer abused me and said that while the world is dying, I only cared about food deliveries. I felt bad, so I returned home again,” he adds. While the police is no longer stopping the riders, customers can also be rude and several colonies do not allow them to enter. “We can sit at home and not work, but we have children to feed,” says another rider on condition
of anonymity.

Most companies have instructed their employees to wear gloves and use masks and sanitisers. “We prefer to buy them on our own than go to the company’s office. The Zomato outlet is in Madangir (in Delhi) and it takes a lot of time and petrol to go there, which we cannot afford, as we are daily wagers,” says Brajesh Kumar, 30.

Contactless deliveries are also being encouraged. “We suggest people who have ordered cash on delivery to make payments through e-wallets,” says Roy.

While Zomato co-founder Deepinder Singh tweeted on March 25 that he would start a “fund to cover up the lost earnings for thousands of their delivery partners”, over 12 riders, who The Indian Express spoke to, said they were yet to hear of any compensation. On Tuesday, Swiggy also announced a relief fund called Swiggy Hunger Saviour Covid Relief Fund for “the safety and welfare of delivery partners and their families”.

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