Retailers in trouble as shippers take a break

By  Tat Dat   July 30, 2021 | 02:15 am PT
Retailers in trouble as shippers take a break
A shipper stopped and questioned in Nha Be District, HCMC, July 26, 2021. Photo by VnExpress.
Supermarkets, e-commerce and transport firms are in a bind as an increasing number of motorbike shippers choose to turn off their delivery apps temporarily.

They are doing so at the urging of peers in an online community who say running the gauntlet of catching Covid-19 infections and being punished for not following unclear regulations for a pittance is a fruitless exercise.

"It is not worth it, delivering something a few ten thousand dong (VND10,000 = $0.44) while taking the risk of getting infected or fined. So I advised fellow shippers to take a break," said Hiep, a resident of HCMC’s District 7.

Shippers say they find the city’s multiple Covid-safe regulations confusing. Tung, a driver who usually works in District 3 and Phu Nhuan, can earn up to VND2 million on certain days, especially with higher demand and less drivers. Before Monday, when a rule for shippers to deliver within one district took effect, Tung usually took detours to avoid checkpoints when making inter-district deliveries, but felt nervous whenever he did it.

"I always felt like I was doing something fishy even though it was my job. I don’t feel at ease working right now despite making a good income", said Tung, who thinks the rule does not make sense as nearly 90 percent of his daily orders have to be delivered to different districts. So he decided to follow his colleagues and stay home.

Loship CEO Nguyen Hoang Trung said that working conditions have become dire for shippers because of unclear regulations on essential goods. This has meant that the fate of a delivery depends on decisions made at checkpoints and often takes more time, not to mention the difficulty involved in proving the essential nature of the goods being delivered.

The lack of shippers has disrupted the inner-city supply chain. Since Monday, major supermarket chains AEON, Tops Market and Saigon Co.op have confirmed they are facing difficulties in making deliveries, while e-commerce platforms are constantly issuing notices of delivery delays.

A shipper collects goods for delivery on Truong Sa Street, HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

A shipper collects goods for delivery on Truong Sa Street, HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Transport firms have also announced driver shortages. AhaMove has seen a 10-fold surge in order requests while its shippers are limited in a quarantined area. Similarly, Loship has encountered difficulties because of mass store closures and limited driver activity even as demand rises for delivery services.

Meanwhile, Loship has doubled the minimum income per order to encourage its shippers. The firm said it was also speeding up work on completing shipper identification as regulated by the Department of Industry and Trade, along with a vaccination list.

CEO Trung said: "Shippers are an important cog in the supply chain especially in the current social distancing context, and we are responsible for protecting them."

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