Covid-19 shutdown boon for one Grab driver but bane for another

A Grab taxi drives on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam October 29, 2018. — Reuters pic
A Grab taxi drives on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam October 29, 2018. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic has hurt the incomes of full-time drivers with Grab but those part-timing could find the two-week nationwide shutdown a minor blessing in disguise.

For 30-year-old Udin, who works full time as a Naza technician, the mandatory stop to all non-essential services has given him the opportunity to earn some extra income driving for Grab while still being paid a full salary from his employer.

“My mom did ask me to balik kampung but I wanted to test and see the market this morning. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten around 10 customers since I started driving at around 7 am. Many are bankers or those who work in essential services.

“I think I won’t be heading home because this is an opportunity for me to make extra money,” the Kedah native originally from Pendang in Malaysia’s rice-bowl state told Malay Mail.

Udin, who did not wish to disclose his full name, seemed rather jovial and cheerful. He was not wearing a face mask but had a bottle of hand sanitiser ready in his glove compartment.

He was relieved and very happy to be receiving his full salary for March but voiced his sympathy for those working in other sectors such as airlines where they were forced to take unpaid leave or pay cuts.

Sulaiman Chen, on the other hand, has been very unhappy since the Covid-19 outbreak first occurred as it has reduced his income by at least 30 per cent.

With the nationwide restricted movement order starting today until the end of the month, the middle-aged family man was worried that this will hurt his earnings even further.

“I usually start work at around four or five in the morning. And by this hour (7am), I would have made around RM100 already. Today, you are my second customer and I’ve only made around RM30. Usually in one day, I make around RM300. Since the outbreak I now make around RM100 to RM200.

“The worst day so far was I worked for eight hours and made only RM97,” said Chen who had a face mask on, adding that he has no choice but to continue working in order to provide for his family even though he fears the outbreak.

Out of concern for his family, he sent them back to his village in Kelantan to wait out the pandemic.

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