Author’s Blurb: Delivery companies have taken precautionary measures such as contactless deliveries and cashless payments while they operate as an essential service during the MCO, with many publicly sharing those precautions in order to reassure customers. This time, I wanted to know more about their staff’s personal experiences on being a frontliner.
Our deliverymen across Malaysia are working tirelessly to get packages to and fro, ensuring that other businesses can stay operational too.
In the first phase of the MCO, Prasad of Pgeon told Vulcan Post that they saw the volume of deliveries dip by 40%, but by the second and third phase, the volume had increased by 4x, which was 3x above their baseline at stretched capacity.
Shern Yau of Logistics Worldwide Express (LWE) also said that they saw an approximate increase of 70% in domestic pickups and delivery volume.
All this means that they and their fellow deliverymen are out and about more than ever, thus putting them at a higher risk of contracting the virus, even with all the precautionary measures in place.
Of course, they’re wearing masks, washing their hands frequently, minimising contact with colleagues and customers, and keeping hand sanitiser on them at all times, but concern undoubtedly lingers.
The Little Things Count
One of the main concerns aside from contracting the virus themselves is them passing it onto family members or others.
Faiz of ZeptoExpress is currently living alone and away from his family as the rest of them returned to their hometowns on the first day of the MCO.
“I think this is among the hardest decision to make as you won’t see them physically during the whole period of MCO,” he shared.
Despite him now living alone, he still makes sure to wash all his clothes immediately when he reaches home after a day of deliveries.
For Shern Yau, he makes sure to stay away from his family upon returning home until he has showered, which is the first thing he does.
Prasad shared that he’s doing the same, with his thought process going as far as getting a confirmed placement in medical facilities with necessary medication to ensure that he can be treated if needed.
The increase in deliveries has also led to an increase in stress levels and exhaustion amongst the three of them.
“Personally, during MCO, the normal working environment and working hours seems no longer applied to the company. We must plan ahead in advance every day so that everything will run smoothly the next day,” Faiz said.
“Frankly speaking, it has caused exhaustion not just physically but also mentally.”
However, when he first entered the industry, he had already made up his mind that it would be challenging, preparing himself to go through various kinds of environments and situations.
Prasad shared how they deal with stress and exhaustion at Pgeon, saying, “During high fatigue period, sufficient understanding to allow partial daily pardons to rest at home has been given on a case to case basis based on frontliners’ supervisory discretion.”
Fighting External Factors
Aside from the overall stress and exhaustion, this pandemic and following MCO have presented many more challenges to their jobs.
Faiz shared that with the increase in deliveries, they’ve had to cater to demand with limited supplies, which can sometimes result in delays.
Thus, customer attitudes can pose a challenge when they’re used to getting 30 to 45-minute deliveries.
Prasad shares a similar challenge, as they have to stay operational despite limited working hours and days to ensure delays are kept to a minimum.
Another one is ensuring that their linehauls during midnight runs are least disrupted during MCO road blocks, and the lack of access to petrol pumps was a challenge until they got their own petrol bank in their main hub to carry them through these times.
For Shern Yau, some of the challenges he faces while doing deliveries include delivery failures for parcels to be delivered to offices or business addresses since they’re closed.
To combat this, he has to make a conscious effort to identify these addresses and get an alternative address. If the item can’t be sent to an alternative address, LWE ends up having to store them in its warehouse and these can pile up for months.
In terms of personal comfort, Shern Yau shared that wearing masks while doing deliveries isn’t easy as it can get stuffy in the afternoon heat.
“We have to be very careful how we wipe our sweat or if the face gets itchy due to long hours of wearing the masks,” he added.
They Do It For Us
Apart from being concerned about the risk of infections and delays, there’s also a whole slew of other concerns running through their minds.
One that Shern Yau shared was the fact that he worries about how other businesses that cannot operate during the MCO will survive.
“Will there be enough business to maintain the jobs? While it seems logistics is booming during this period, it’s also very dependent on the businesses’ environment in general to flourish for it to sustain,” he said.
Another concern he had was about how the business landscape will change after the pandemic is over. “Will there continue to be a demand for some of these new initiatives that we provide, or will it be different? We have to be dynamic in order to catch up with these changes as fast as we can.”
Faiz had some concerns about the upcoming Ramadhan e-bazaars specifically. For one, the streets will be flooded with deliverymen as everyone will be selling and buying online frequently.
“Without proper rules and regulations in handling e-bazaar, I’m afraid this might affect our MCO that has been already running for some time to flatten the curve, and the MCO period might be extended,” he said.
“I hope there will be strict guidelines and rules to control this from getting to a worse state.”
Nonetheless, they’re all committed to carrying out their jobs despite all these challenges and concerns as they understand the importance of their roles.
Prasad summed up their experiences well, saying, “The need to do it for the extended Malaysian family and to keep the country’s economy moving has always kept everyone in the best of moods.”
Bottom Line: In general, deliverymen have always played a vital role in so many of our lives and businesses, but at a time like this is when we truly realise their dedication to the job. Perhaps their jobs don’t carry the same reputation of importance that being a doctor or policeman does, but where would our economy truly be right now if it weren’t for them?
- You can read more on what we’ve written about the MCO here.
Featured Image Credit: ZeptoExpress / Pgeon