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KT Hero of 2020: Delivery men kept wheels of economy turning

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on December 31, 2020
RULING THE ROAD : From groceries to parcels, these heroes ensured residents were well stocked during curfew hours. Photo: Shihab

These seasoned professionals were an integral part of the frontline workers battling the pandemic.

Come rain or shine, delivery boys are always expected to bring your parcel on time in the UAE, where takeaways are a way of life.

However, the new normal kicked in in March, following the onset of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.

The heroes on wheels rose to the occasion with aplomb, which evoked awe and admiration among their discerning customers.

The delivery boys were an integral part of the frontline workers battling the pandemic.

These seasoned professionals adjusted to the new normal overnight and stuck to their task by delivering all essential commodities with clockwork precision.

They were unfazed by the pandemic and many did double shifts, as citizens and residents were confined to the safe environs of their homes for months on end amid the viral outbreak.

Delivery boys were exempt during restrictions enforced for weeks in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic.

They were the lifeline for the country, as businesses — from grocery stores to meat and green vegetable vendors — depended on them for life uninterrupted.

The Covid-19 warriors turned up in their personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, as they took to the streets to deliver goods to customers’ doorsteps. They braved all odds from the sweltering summer heat to salary cuts as the economy was roiled by the contagion.

These frontline workers, who battled the Covid-19 pandemic, lived up to the motto that the show must go on while championing their clients’ cause without any fear or favour.

Harshit Desai, the managing director at Pravago Delivery Services LLC, reflected on the odds during the lockdown restrictions. “Our priority was to protect our employees and at the same time ensure that our operations were running seamlessly. PPE items such as face masks, hand sanitiser and gloves were instantly provided to our riders. They were given safety tips about the health hazards. We also gave our delivery crew the option to stay at home during the pandemic for their safety. However, they stepped up to the plate. They plunged themselves headlong on to the task at hand. They were resolute in their determination. They refused to abandon their customers in the latter’s hour of need. They overcame one of the worst times in the history of mankind. It is their courage and support that kept us afloat amid incredibly hard times,” Harshit recounted.

Imran Ahmed, a delivery boy and the lead rider Pravago Delivery Services LLC, dubbed his selfless act as the call to duty.

“This job is my lifeline, as it helps me to take care of my family. However, it was painful to see the public avoiding us like plague at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Initial pain gave away to sobering thoughts. Soon, I came to terms with the fact that fear was the key amid the contagion. I stuck to my brief and did the job in a dedicated manner,” Imran reminisced.

He looked back in wonder about those excruciating times that appear to be behind us.

“Everybody was scared to talk to us during the lockdown restrictions or even receive their delivery parcels. We had received a fresh round of training to leave behind parcels outside customers’ doorsteps while taking care of all necessary precautionary measures. We also would sanitise parcels containing non-food items. The UAE police authorities were a standout force. They not only ensured compliance with law and order but also regularly checked on our health and wellness,” he added.

Murali Shambantham, (42), a delivery man for the past 15 years in the UAE, said he never thought he would face such unprecedented times and yet keep his job going. Masks and gloves are his gears against Covid-19, as he hits the road on his two-wheeler to deliver food from Aappa Kadai. When asked if he was worried about the high risk of exposure from people who were seemingly asymptomatic, Murali was nonchalant in his response.

“Someone needed to do the job at hand... I know it can be contracted through cough droplets or by touching infected surfaces. I always use a PPE kit to protect myself besides taking necessary precautionary measures after I get off my vehicle. I always maintain a certain physical distance and lean forward to handover the parcel,” he said.

“Food is an essential item. How can you deprive someone of food? If we hadn’t intensified our operations, how would people who do not have running kitchens at their homes eat?” he added.

Earlier, the Dubai Police had given UAE residents a seven-point guide on how they can reduce their chance of catching the Covid-19 strain by adhering to precautionary measures while receiving their food delivery.

From their official Instagram account, the police urged residents to avoid direct contact with the deliveryman and to ask them to leave the order at the door.

The delivery sector played a key role and emerged as a lifeline for the community at large that was confined indoors, as unsung heroes on wheels were the proverbial manna from heaven.

saman@khaleejtimes.com





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