Riders race against time to deliver food, goods as CMCO drives order volume up

GrabFood riders wait to pick up their order at Ampang, Kuala Lumpur October 14, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
GrabFood riders wait to pick up their order at Ampang, Kuala Lumpur October 14, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — For delivery gig workers, the lockdown from March to June was in a way considered relatively good times.

As the entire population was locked inside to stem the spread of Covid-19, food delivery orders shot through the roof. No rider could say their earnings didn’t jump.

But the windfall came with a price. Scoring more delivery gigs meant less rest. Many complained of sleep deprivation. Still, the pain of exhaustion came nowhere near the trauma from pressure to fulfill those deliveries, which they said felt like “forever”.

Today, delivery riders are bracing for yet another round of chaos as the conditional movement control order takes effect.

And they said the signs are already there. Many whom Malay Mail interviewed reported increased orders at unusual hours, like early morning.

“Usually I’m not so busy unless it’s peak hour like lunch or dinner, but today I’ve been busy since morning,” said Aiman Abdul Halim, 25, who delivers food for FoodPanda.

“I’ve already delivered six orders and lunch hour is only just beginning.”

Foodpanda rider Shamsul Ariffin speaks to Malay Mail during an interview in Kuala Lumpur October 14, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Foodpanda rider Shamsul Ariffin speaks to Malay Mail during an interview in Kuala Lumpur October 14, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Promotions may also have a role in the marked increase in orders. Service providers and vendors alike have offered discounts or freebies, seemingly timed to coincide with the CMCO.

While eateries are still open for business and dine-ins are allowed, customers are still encouraged to take away, just as companies are advised to work from home.

Reports of mild panic buying before and shortly after the government announced the order to lock Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, suggest people were already preparing to stay in.

The glaring drop in traffic on major Selangor and Kuala Lumpur roads yesterday morning suggests most people are staying in.

GrabFood rider Muhammad Firdaus Jasni speaks to Malay Mail during a interview in Kuala Lumpur October 14, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
GrabFood rider Muhammad Firdaus Jasni speaks to Malay Mail during a interview in Kuala Lumpur October 14, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

“Since CMCO I can see that the orders are increasing due to the promotion by Food Panda especially during peak hours (11 am to 1pm),” said Jaafarin Norhisham, 27, who also rides for FoodPanda.

“I think this is due to people controlling their movement and following the standard operating procedures,” he added.

Amin Hariz, 23, who rides for GrabFood, said he expects orders to pick up in the next few days.

“It’s the first day of CMCO and I find my orders are a bit slow in the morning and started to increase during lunchtime, and my customers prefer contactless transactions due to fear of getting the (Covid-19) virus,” he told Malay Mail.

Other businesses, which would have learned from the effects of the previous lockdown, are also expected to push demand for delivery services.

Muhammad Amirul Aizat, 21, who rides for Lalamove, a service provider that delivers nearly everything, noted a sudden spike in orders for groceries ahead of the CMCO announcement.

“I usually deliver goods to businesses and companies, things like office supplies and the sort,” he said.

Lalamove delivery rider Muhammad Amirul Aizat noted a sudden spike in orders for groceries ahead of the CMCO announcement. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Lalamove delivery rider Muhammad Amirul Aizat noted a sudden spike in orders for groceries ahead of the CMCO announcement. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

“But I’ve noticed an increase in orders for groceries since Monday — fresh foods, rice, cleaning items, and the number of orders for those have increased.”

The National Security Council said it had to enforce the CMCO on Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya to preempt another widespread outbreak after several districts, at one point free of the coronavirus, saw a rise in new positive Covid-19 cases.

Under the current order, inter-state and inter-district travel is barred except for workers with valid passes or authorisation letters.

Industries and businesses, while spared from closure, are to enforce strict health protocols and physical distancing. This includes eateries, which are allowed to open but must limit its customers to two per table.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the CMCO will remain in effect for two weeks.

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