Dubai rains: Delivery riders battle bad weather to bring food to residents' doorsteps

Some companies cancel all orders during unstable weather as safety of riders is priority for them


Nasreen Abdulla

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram


KT photo by Shibab
KT photo by Shibab

Published: Thu 26 Jan 2023, 10:03 PM

Last updated: Fri 27 Jan 2023, 6:32 PM

Delivery rider M.M. was one of the very few out on the roads picking orders despite his company giving him the option to not work if he felt unsafe. The inclement weather saw several delivery apps across the UAE either closed for orders or cautioning about lengthy delays.

“I thought it would be a good time to pick up some work as many others decided not to ride,” he said to team KT.

Meanwhile another rider Mohammed Bilal said on Friday that he had returned to work after two days. “I stayed home the first two days because the roads get very slippery and dangerous during the rains,” he said. “However, I couldn’t go three days without any orders so I came now. The showers have reduced to a drizzle now thankfully. I am here to pick up my first order. Hopefully, it won’t be too difficult out on the roads.”

“But the delivery location was in Al Quoz. Several areas were flooded so I took a lot of detours to get to the location. It took me about 20 minutes longer than usual. When I was returning, I slipped and fell into a huge puddle and was soaking wet. I went home, got changed and now I came back to pick up another order.”

Ian Ohan, founder and CEO of KRUSH Brands and Locale that operate its own delivery fleet, said the company has a policy to cancel all deliveries without any exception when it rains. “Our earnings yesterday was virtually zero,” he said.

“It is expensive, but our belief is that no delivery is worth a life. We have done 5 million orders without a single fatality. That is a record we are keen to maintain.”

Ian said that managers of each store had the authority to close orders depending on the weather. “Since we have branches all over the city, the managers of stores can decide whether to send out deliveries or not based on the weather conditions around that area,” he said.

“Our riders are not incentivized based on the number of deliveries they do. So it does not translate into a loss of income for them.”

Safety first

Another delivery provider Deliveroo said they take the safety of their riders very seriously. In a statement, a spokesperson said that during inclement weather, the company monitors the situation closely and ask riders and operations team for the situation on the ground.

“Riders are encouraged to assess the driving conditions in their area and temporarily log out if they feel unsafe driving,” the statement said.

“Depending on how different areas are affected, we limit delivery areas to reduce driving distances. And if weather conditions worsen and it’s no longer safe for riders to drive, we immediately pause operations in all affected areas and proactively inform customers about potential delays or closures. When the weather improves and it’s safe for riders to start driving, operations will resume, and customers will be able to place orders again.”

A biker himself, Ian said that roads in the UAE get extremely unsafe when it rains. “The rain mixes with sand and petrol residue to make the roads especially slick,” he said.

“Also, most of the drivers – whether on a bike or a car – here don’t have experience riding in rainy weather. So this makes things very dangerous.”

Rider Harwinder had parked his bike in a parking lot and was taking shelter under a tree when team KT met him.

“I joined the shift at 12,” he said. “The app was shut off several times because it was raining heavily. It is now 3pm. I haven’t got a single order so I am going home. The rain is becoming heavier. I haven’t earned anything today but I think today I will put safety ahead of money.”

Delivery provider Careem said it had put in place several precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its Captains. “While it was raining, we paused all delivery services, and once the rain stopped, we limited our Captains’ operating radius to ensure that they avoided highways and ensured that they only operated in zones without any water clogging or pool,” the statement read.

“Our advice to Captains included not to brake suddenly, to avoid water puddles, to keep their helmet visors clean for better visibility, to maintain safe speeds without overtaking, to take cover when raining, and to check their tire pressure before starting the day.”

A statement by Talabat also said that they follow strict safety protocols including shrinking delivery areas and suspending operations when the weather gets unstable. “Customers are [also] informed that orders will be delayed for rider safety as riders are requested to drive slowly, and to avoid certain routes and turns,” read the statement.

“This is part of the special training riders receive throughout the year on how to drive during certain weather conditions - we also have Talabat Patrollers, our dedicated Talabat safety unit, sharing live information from the field on weather conditions.”


More news from UAE