Lucky shippers circumventing tough pandemic restrictions

August 18, 2021 | 17:03
Shippers are hoping for priority in vaccine programmes to help serve pandemic-affected areas like Hanoi, with some delivery platforms being allowed to resume delivery of groceries and other essential goods in the city.
NowFresh and NowShip have been allowed to operate, Photo Le Toan
NowFresh and NowShip have been allowed to operate. Photo: Le Toan

According to Hanoi Department of Transport and Hanoi Department of Information and Communications, goods delivery services NowFresh and NowShip officially resumed operations from August 4 in the five districts of Cau Giay, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Ba Dinh, and Thanh Xuan.

Before restarting operations, shippers will have to complete daily health declarations and temperature checks. Now stated that only drivers who meet the conditions are approved by Hanoi Department of Transport, and who follow the rules will be allowed to operate.

Like other mobile applications such as Grab, Be, and Gojek, Now was forced to suspend all services in Hanoi from July 28 due to pandemic prevention requirements.

Some large supermarkets such as AEON Vietnam and Saigon Co.op previously had to suspend online shopping services due to a lack of shippers. E-commerce platforms also constantly issue notices to apologise to customers for delayed deliveries.

Due to strict regulations on movements in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, shippers take a long time to fullfill orders, with some even fined after running into a police checkpoint.

“Delivering currently feels like an illegal action. Each order only gets a few thousand VND in exchange for the risk of infection and fines,” Van Hiep, a shipper in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7 shared on social media.

Driver Quang Thanh, who works with AhaMove, said that in the early days of Hanoi’s social distancing, only AhaMove’s drivers were allowed to deliver. Although the number of orders increased 10 times compared to normal days, Thanh and many of his colleagues did not dare to accept many of these orders for fear of being fined at the quarantine checkpoints.

“I only accepted orders for delivery at noon because at that time the checkpoints are quieter. When delivering goods, I also have to urge customers to take them quickly to avoid detection,” Thanh said.

The tightened regulations on delivery activities not only affect shippers but also users, like individuals and businesses.

Vi Nguyen, owner of Eat Me Cake in Hanoi, lamented that online orders now take two days to be delivered instead of just a few hours. The rates also increased by about 20-30 per cent, sometimes doubling, causing her to pay extra shipping fees to reduce costs for customers.

According to Le Duy Binh, director of consulting company Economica Vietnam, shippers are part of a huge commercial supply network to bring products to consumers. “In the early stages, we only cared about protecting production but forgot about logistics. When we paid attention to logistics, we still forgot about last-mile delivery services to the end consumer,” Binh said.

He suggested that it is necessary to immediately vaccinate the shippers. “A year ago, when there was no vaccine, there were no measures, but now that we have it, we can’t forget the truckers, loaders, packers, retailers, and shippers,” Binh argued.

Representatives of Grab, Be, and Gojek have proposed to put drivers in the priority group for vaccinations and loosen up regulations on transporting goods.

Ho Chi Minh City has sent an official dispatch to the city’s Department of Health and people’s committees of districts, recommending vaccination for staff delivering and receiving goods. Thousands of shippers in Ho Chi Minh City have been vaccinated since the beginning of August.

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho also injected more than 400 Grab shippers to ensure goods supply activities in the area.

Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade is proposing to speed up vaccinations for about 15,000 shippers in freight-forwarding activities.

By Lu Y

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