Motorbike taxi drivers in Hanoi are finally able to transport people around the city again after months of restrictions.
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Up to 20 rides per day is the number that Nguyen Van Chung, a 43-year-old Grab driver, has made since the company announced the reopening of the GrabBike service in Hanoi from February 7. He said, “Being back to work makes me feel happier and busier. The number of visitors these days is even more crowded than it was before the outbreak.”
Chung was born in the northern province of Thai Nguyen, but has been in Hanoi to work as a Grabbike driver for more than three years. The job is enough for him to provide for his family in the countryside and have extra savings. However, the income level of around $650 per month suddenly dropped to zero in July last year. Chung had to find other jobs such as a porter, and had to go back to his hometown for several months before returning to Hanoi to find a new job after the Lunar New Year.
“Fortunately, I had just been back in Hanoi for one day when I learned of the change in rules. Initially there were too many customers and not enough drivers. Every day, after excluding all expenses, I am earning around $23-26,” Chung said.
In order to be accepted by the application to operate, the driver must ensure pandemic prevention regulations including wearing a mask, making medical declarations, and being fully vaccinated. Many people also equip masks and antiseptic solutions for customers to use when needed.
Ho Tuan, a driver for ride-hailing app Be Group, shared, “Strictly complying with pandemic prevention regulations is now the most important thing and we must take it seriously because the risk of not having a job will also return, threatening our own lives.”
According to incomplete statistics from these ride-hailers, by the time of social distancing in July last year, there were about 120,000 Grabbike drivers and 200,000 Gojek bike drivers in operation. A representative of Be Group said that there are 100,000 driver-partners but its data does not specify the percentage of both bike and car drivers.
Since mid-November last year, Ho Chi Minh City has allowed motorbike taxi applications to pick up passengers again, but the capital took the decision much more slowly.
“We had other options in booking economical cars, but motorbike taxis are much easier and often more convenient,” said Le Huong, a customer in Cau Giay district of Hanoi.
Some ride-hailing apps have launched many attractive promotions to increase income to attract drivers to return to work. Gojek car company has announced that it will give an extra $6.50 to drivers who complete 22 trips within 7 days.
Meanwhile, a Grab representative confirmed, “We are implementing a number of bonus programmes to help driver-partners to ensure they have more income, and incentive programmes to encourage people to use the service.”