Amid the statewide lockdown when people are locked in their homes, some of them are constantly exposing themselves to the dreaded coronavirus to make life easier for others. They are also not on the government’s list of Covid warriors, nor the companies they work for protect them with large life / health insurance plans.
Yes, they are the delivery men of several app-based online services who spend over 12 hours a day dropping essential goods at our doorstep, risking their lives in these trying times.
As the entire country grips the second wave of the ongoing pandemic, these delivery people have become as important as the healthcare providers on the front lines. They come to us with medicines, groceries and other essentials as they carry their oversized bags and roam the city. Knowing that they are at risk of viruses, many are coming out as more and more people depend on home deliveries of food, groceries and essential health care and of course to meet the necessities of life. life.
Sunday POST talks to a few delivery people to find out their fears, hopes and concerns.
Chittaranjan Satpathy, who works with restaurant aggregator and food delivery company Zomato, says: âMy father is a priest in Brahmagiri and his income was insufficient to meet the needs of our family. So, being the older brother, I did my part to comfort him. After getting my bachelor’s degree, I joined this company. It is really difficult to work during the Corona period. Meeting around 20 people every day without knowing their state of health involves risks. But I can’t quit work for two reasons. First, I cannot afford to sit idly by at home. And the other thing is that there are a lot of people who depend on home delivery during these tough times. So, I feel like I’m part of the Covid warrior team offering their services to the needy. However, I make sure to get tested if I am not feeling well or if I suspect I have symptoms of Covid-19. I would never like to be a spreader of the disease.
Customer behavior sometimes irritates Chittaranjan. âDespite a good knowledge of the current situation, they often make us wait hours for payment and behave in a rude manner. That’s not all. They give negative comments that lead to lower pay. I suffered a deduction of Rs 500 from my salary for a late delivery. We treat customers like gods, they should at least treat us like human beings, right, âhe laments.
Originally from Nayagarh, Santosh Kumar Nayak has been associated with a courier service company for two years. He says, âBeing the sole breadwinner in my family, I cannot afford to stay home to stay safe. There are chances of catching the virus, but as a spiritual individual I left it to the Almighty. I believe he will take care of all of us.
Although he does his duty in all sincerity, he too is not satisfied with the attitude of some customers. âIt annoys me when customers don’t get my calls and keep me waiting unnecessarily. They should understand the fact that we are also human beings. When it comes to Covid-19, our contribution is nothing compared to the efforts of frontline workers like police and media who work around the clock. We have been working without any protection for a long time. Recently, our company has extended health insurance coverage to deliverers and executives who are aware of the risks involved. But I’m not panicked by the Corona threat because someone or the other has to step in to get the job done. “
Chetan Lenka, a resident of Jagatsinghpur, joined the Swiggy food delivery platform two months ago after taking a few days’ break for personal reasons. He says: âThere are chances of getting infected with Covid, but who is going to provide us with two square meals a day if we stop working. Although my parents repeatedly asked me not to go out during the pandemic and asked me to come back to the village, I couldn’t afford this “luxury”. I am not afraid of Corona because I know he kills those who are afraid. Our company provides life insurance coverage of Rs a lakh to its employees.
Asked about the precautions he is taking, Chetan adds: âIn several housing companies, we have to write down our names and mobile numbers at the entrance. This is not a safe practice as many people would have used them before without following the protocol. So, I make sure to wash my clothes and take a bath every day before entering my home. I also gargle with salt and turmeric water and inhale steam daily as part of the infection control measures. “
Nirmal Kumar Behera, a delivery man at Swiggy, says: âIn accordance with our company policy, we followed WHO guidelines while delivering basic necessities. Since the lockdown was imposed, the number of online orders has increased. Although I wear hand sanitizer and never take off my face mask, the fear of contracting the virus is still there. Even though my family members are worried about me, I have no choice but to do the work for our livelihood. Besides, I consider it a service to reach out to the needy. In addition to working for a living, I distribute food to the poor and feed stray dogs at night.
Balaji Mishra is a resident of Nayagarh but resides in Bhubaneswar after joining Zomato. He says, âMy working hours remain the same as they were before Covid. The Covid is here and will be there. It will not help to stop working because of the fear of Covid. I find it really bad when people who test positive hide it from delivery people. But if we need to deliver food to Covid homes, we place the packages near the door and click on a picture and send it to the customer. This is our contactless delivery. As I haven’t taken the jab yet, the fear of infections is still there. I used to get 9-10 orders per day which doubled during lockdown. “
Rashmi Rekha Das, OP