I have been contacted recently by one of our members in the food business with a proposal to work with ecommerce delivery services to make deliveries safer. Does any other reader want to join us in working towards greater safety for deliveries? According to the SA Motorcycle Safety Institute, at least 70 delivery riders — most of them food couriers — have died in SA over the past year. Hundreds more have been injured. In SA, the dangers of being a food courier are particularly acute. Last year, Uber Eats introduced free insurance coverage, including emergency medical care and payouts for death and disability. But the payouts are capped at about 180,000R — and riders qualify for them only when they are on active trips, not if they are returning from a delivery.
I see that experts warn that much local ecommerce deliveries are carried out by the so called “gig economy” (which covers short-term engagements, temporary contracts, and independent contracting – it is also called the “freelancer economy,” “agile workforce,” “sharing economy”). This makes it hard for the authorities to monitor working conditions and enforce labour laws.
Interestingly, recently Gokada, a popular motorbike-hailing service and delivery company in Lagos, Nigeria, temporarily shut down operations for 2 weeks in order to train its riders in customer service, hygiene, driving, navigation use, as well as providing brand new bikes and Bluetooth helmets. Once “graduated” the drivers returned to business with the new bikes and helmets. This was in response to a high rate of accidents and customer complaints. So far the newly trained drivers are getting high ratings from their customers.