Thrusted to the front lines

Kuching recently becomes a ghost town, with only a handful of vehicles can be seen on the road.

In light of recent events, food businesses have gone online and in the cities, most people have relied on food delivery services. With only limited movements allowed in the country, delivery riders are here to help us keep going.

Braving the circumstances

As the Covid-19 virus spreads globally, the number of cases in Malaysia spiked rapidly in early March. This prompted Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to issue a movement control order (MCO).

The MCO restricts all movement within the country except for essential services. Currently, the MCO imposed that only one individual from each household can go out to purchase basic necessities.

With this restriction in place, most businesses have gone online and people are depending more on food delivery services.

Needless to say, Kuching has become a ghost town, and what continues to thrive on the streets are food delivery services. One such popular service comes from Grab. The e-hailing company had recently introduced Grab Food (and others) to its users — thus opening a new dimension to regulars of the brand.

Alistair Paul Amin quit his day job to a full-time rider.

Riding through the empty roads on a daily basis, Grab Food rider, 33-year-old Alistair Paul Amin joined the brand last December as part-timer. However, as he could not cope with stressful days at his workplace, he resigned from his dayjob and switched full-time to Grab.

The father of one shared that before the MCO, his average number of deliveries was around 17 order from 9am to 10pm. After the control order was issued, Alistair said that while he receives the same average number of deliveries, his working period had been shortened to 8 pm in lieu of the instructions given by the government.

Nonetheless, Alistair said the orders kept on coming and time is of the essence to them. While keeping up with the pace, his main priority is to maintain his level of hygiene. “I would take a brief break to shower, or to wash my hands whenever possible. As a rider, I am also worried as we do not know who is infected.” Hence, he revealed, that they are advised to keep their distances and conduct a contactless delivery.

“I would try to avoid contact as much as possible.” In doing so, Grab has come out with a contactless delivery method whereby the customers would have to notify where they would prefer the rider to put their deliveries at.
Alistair shared that he would put the deliveries as where the customers would tell him to place. “ And I will wait for them to come and take it from a distance before I complete my order.”

Recalling an unforgettable moment working during the MCO, he said that there was once when a customer had asked him to put the order on the table. “The housedog came running and scrambled their order. He had his tummy full with Nando’s that day,” Alistair laughed.

When asked on the difficulties that he experienced as a food delivery rider, Alistair disclosed that it has now become more difficult to deliver to hospitals. “We refrain ourselves from entering the wards and certain sections of the hospital. I will usually ask the customers to come down to a specific location to pick the delivery up.”

Meanwhile, 40-year-old Khairul Nizam Bujang describes his experience being a delivery rider during this period as something completely different. “Since only certain restaurants are open for business, either for takeaways or delivery during MCO, shopping complexes are easier to access now.”
Khairul recalled feeling amazed at how different the empty atmosphere inside the mall felt compared to before.

An experienced rider, Khairul celebrates his first year with Grab this July. Before the restriction, Khairul said the average number of orders that he received varied depending on the time of the month. He would get the most during payday. “I would get in between 15 to 20 orders per day working from 9am to 10pm.”

After the commencement of MCO on March 18, Khairul said that the average number of orders was still the same.

“But the numbers dropped to an average of 10 per day after the notice on the short operating hours for restaurants was released.”

He opined that before the MCO, order volumes were higher because people were less particular about being around others or going to places. “Now, there are limitations everywhere. There are also places where we are not allowed to enter now, like the hospital.”

Nevertheless, as a Grab Food rider, Khairul feels proud that he could help the community with his service during this trying period.