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Grab driver shares what it’s like for e-hailing drivers during the MCO in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA, March 31 — The movement control order (MCO) has forced many Malaysians to stay home to curb the spread of Covid-19, essentially putting the brakes on businesses such as e-hailing platforms.

Among those affected is Grab driver turned GrabFood rider Yee Kim Chang who found himself adopting a sudden change in profession after the MCO kicked in on March 18.

When the spread of the virus started picking up in the country earlier this month, Yee began adhering to strict hygiene guidelines by wearing a mask and gloves while driving and washing his hands frequently.

There was however an inevitable dip in e-hailing customers and he felt compelled to switch to doing food delivery to sustain himself and his family.

“(The MCO) definitely impacted my usual income as compared to before. With the MCO, a lot of people are staying at home, so it’s obvious that not many people are taking e-hailing during this period.

“Demand has definitely gone down as compared to before. Other than that, now we need to take precautions and practice social distancing with our customers,” Yee told Malay Mail.

In a press release published last week, Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh said that “tens of thousands” of Grab drivers have been deployed to their GrabFood, GrabMart, and GrabExpress operations due to the decline in e-hailing customers and an accompanying spike in delivery orders.

For someone like Yee, it took some time to adjust to being a GrabFood rider after spending the past five years behind the wheel as an e-hailing driver.

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But more than anything, the 31-year-old is grateful to have an alternative source of income during these difficult times.

“It was a bit uncomfortable in the beginning and I wasn’t quite used to (being a food delivery rider), especially since you sometimes need to walk to the restaurant and address to pass the order.

“But I’m used to it now! I think it was a great idea that Grab started getting drivers to do GrabFood deliveries too as it really helped to increase our income at a time where most Malaysians were staying at home.”

The Petaling Jaya-based rider described his family as his “spiritual pillar” that keeps him motivated while working as a frontliner during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also urged other daily wage earners like him to stay positive and to consider looking into delivery services as a potential source of alternative employment while the MCO lasts. ⁠— Malay Mail