Despite pandemic fears, food delivery boys, sanitation workers still remain on the job
Even as sections of the city’s workforce have decided to work from home or take a few days off over fears of a COVID-19 spread, food delivery service executives and sanitation workers, among several others, remain on the job.
The city’s sanitation workers are anxious but cannot abandon the job. “It would be best if we got a few days off, but that would leave residents wondering what to do with the waste. I have been getting calls from other workers in the area telling me that they are scared for themselves and their families,” said Saradha Mani, who collects waste from the Edappally area.
“People in shops and hotels have also been treating us differently and are asking us to stay away when they know we collect waste,” she said. The workers who collect waste from houses, shops, and other establishments at Edappally have not received any protective gear, but some residents have helped out with sanitisers and masks, she added.
“It gets particularly difficult when some households don’t segregate waste, and we are required to sift through it,” said Rajamma, who collects waste from Division 52 of the corporation. The workers have received gloves, and they cover nose and mouth with towels, she added.
Joshi P.G., who works on a truck that collects wet waste from Vyttila and surrounding areas, is worried if a single cake of soap and a towel the workers received a few days ago would protect them from infection.
“The corporation is still in the process of distributing towels, soaps, and gloves to workers,” said V.P. Chandran, member of the health standing committee.
Meanwhile, food delivery service partners are still on the job. “Though we were expecting a rise in the number of orders with people spending time at home, demand has dipped,” said a part-time Swiggy delivery partner, who did not want to be named. He had taken up the job to deal with a difficult financial situation. “Most of us are very conscious that it is a service that will be difficult to stop. I have personally tried to reduce the number of orders I accept per day to avoid contact,” he said. Their office has provided delivery partners with masks.
Both Swiggy and Zomato offer an option wherein customers can ask delivery partners to leave the order outside the door to eliminate contact. A statement on Swiggy’s website says that masks were being distributed to delivery partners, besides reminding them about washing hands and identifying symptoms of the infection. Free on call medical consultation will be provided, and all medical expenses will be covered by medical insurance. The company will also support partners financially if they are required to self-quarantine on noticing any symptoms.
“Business is slow, particularly after the bird flu scare. But most of us continue to take up orders we get,” said another delivery partner who worked for a brief period on Sunday before delivery services were halted to observe the Janata Curfew.
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