UAE: Delivery riders urge patience as they miss Iftars to deliver meals on time

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Dubai - Heroes on wheels make a difference to their customers’ lives during Ramadan.

By Saman Haziq

Published: Tue 4 May 2021, 2:55 PM

Last updated: Wed 5 May 2021, 10:13 AM

As Iftar time approaches, people make a dash for their homes or restaurants, where a scrumptious spread awaits them. However, there is another lot that makes a desperate dash to ensure that customers get their Iftar meals on time.

These heroes on wheels are the delivery boys, who are an integral part of the UAE’s frontline workers, selflessly serving the public to win over the Covid-19 challenge. But their dedication to work has come at a cost that money can’t buy.

The holy month of Ramadan, which started on April 13, has seen a rise in fatalities in motorbike accidents in Ras Al Khaimah, following a surge in demand for delivery services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the northern emirate’s police force said.

According to Arabic media reports, RAK Police said that the emirate recorded the death of a delivery rider between January and March, the first quarter of this year.

RAK Police issued an awareness report and stated that motorcycle riders who do not abide by road safety rules and speed limits are putting their lives at grave risk.

The police have introduced new norms for two-wheeler drivers because of an unprecedented uptick in takeaway services, leading to a rise in road accidents as time is of the essence for hard-pressed delivery riders trying to beat the clock, an officer said.

Some riders are found to be flouting driving rules, as they are trying to deliver orders at the earliest, he added.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior had warned motorists against endangering the lives of delivery service workers. The authorities noticed that some motorists were found to be over speeding and driving recklessly, putting the lives of delivery riders in jeopardy.

Be patient, riders urge

Nadeem, who goes by one name and works as a rider at Pravago Delivery Services, echoed the discernible trend. He urged customers to be patient with them and trust that their orders would be delivered on time.

“The workload is more during every Ramadan, as we’re expected to deliver on time, especially during Iftar. There is an assigned time limit for each delivery, which is tracked. But there’s also enormous pressure to beat the clock during rush hour, and that often leads to unwarranted delays. Each delay leads to a penalty, and we lose our commission for a delivery. Perhaps, our incentive-based earnings make us drive faster. However, riders are acutely aware of the rules, and none wants to violate deliberately,” Nadeem said.

He urged other motorists to cooperate with delivery riders and called upon them to give the right of the way during rush hour. “Just show a bit of patience and compassion with us. When you see us in a hurry, I would request for the right of the way,” he added.

Sohail Iqbal, who works as a delivery rider at online food ordering company Talabat, which was initially founded in Kuwait and later expanded to other parts of the Middle East and the North Africa (MENA) region, agreed with his peer Nadeem.

He noted that his employer had imparted training to ensure road safety for each rider, fellow motorists, and pedestrians.

“This is a fact that our work has increased manifold because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it’s a hugely satisfying feeling after I helped a person to receive his life-saving medicines on time,” he said.

He too urged customers to be “patient with us, as we never want to delay their orders”.

Unfortunately, some customers want their orders to be delivered within minutes of placing them.

“It becomes highly annoying when a customer keeps calling you while you’re driving to deliver his/her order. An impatient customer distracts a driver, which is a risky proposition. However, I take the rough with the smooth. For instance, there are many compassionate souls, like a customer’s child who gave me a thank you letter when I delivered their order. Such gestures can be touching and are treasure troves,” he added.

Right ahead of Ramadan, Talabat rolled-out a special unit of 20 Safety Officers in April 2021 called ‘talabat Patrols’ (t-patrol). The initiative was first rolled out in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Police and Integrated Transport Centre. Around 20 “talabat Patrollers” now do the rounds in the emirate with the sole duty of ensuring that talabat riders are following safety rules and regulations and keeping themselves and others safe.

Customers’ appreciation holds the key

Thomas Edelmann, the founder and Managing Director of RoadSafety UAE, said they conducted a study to further safeguard the delivery riders’ working conditions from a ‘perception’ point of view.

“There’s just no steel around them to protect them and we see a growing number of motorcycle delivery riders on the UAE’s roads coupled unfortunately with a lot of dangerous riding. There’s an urgent need to focus on the role of the delivery customers. This is vital, as the rider's perception is that their customers often do not appreciate their safety and lack understanding in case they run a bit late. This is truly alarming, as we believe that this — often wrong — perception of riders drives much of their misbehaviour. We propose to focus on delivering customer’s appreciation towards their riders. This will 'take the steam out of the system' and the customers' voices will result in safer rider behaviour.”

He added: “Customers of delivery riders should articulate positive statements for riders such as 'I appreciate your work; I value your safety; I understand if you are a bit late and that your health and safety are most important; There is no need to speed or to take any risks'. In addition, the customers can offer tips to show their appreciation, or a bottle of water or a small snack.”

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