Entrepreneurs trying hard to keep India running amid lockdown

Some claim their delivery executives are facing harassment on the roads while ensuring timely delivery of essential items across the country

Meanwhile, online cab aggregator Ola said it has been working tirelessly to support its drivers over the past few days.

Entrepreneurs in India are trying their best to continue providing essential services and at the same time support their staff amid the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed 10 lives in the country so far.

Some claim their delivery executives are facing harassment on the roads while ensuring timely delivery of essential items across the country.

India is currently amid a 21-day lockdown in light of the pandemic but essential services like those associated with delivery and supply of grocery items have been exempted. The Union home ministry has asked the state governments to ensure unhindered operation of essential services and their seamless availability for the general public during the lockdown period.

Grocery delivery start-up Grofers said they are facing operational challenges due to a lack of clarity in their listing as an essential service provider. “We are working around the clock with respected authorities to resolve this so that you don’t face any inconvenience,” they told their customers in a tweet.

Grofers’ warehouse in NCR’s Faridabad was recently shut down by local law enforcement personnel on March 24, said the start-up’s co-founder and CEO Albinder Dhindsa. However, the warehouse was made operational again on March 25.

Dhindsa said they are working on resuming supplies within 24 hours. Grofers will start round-the-clock delivery from Thursday (March 26) night for customers in NCR, Kolkata and Bangalore, he said.

Grocery and meat delivery start-up Freshtohome too said its delivery associates are facing hurdles while delivering orders, and requested the prime minister to declared home delivery as an essential service.

Restaurant aggregator and food delivery start-up Zomato had earlier launched contactless delivery option for its prepaid orders in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zomato co-founder Deepinder Goyal has appealed for donation for its ‘Feeding The Daily Wager’ initiative so that it can provide food to those who have lost their livelihoods due to the lockdown. He said ₹1.5 crore has been raised for the initiative in just 17 hours and that it needs a total of ₹25 crore to make an impact.

Meanwhile, online cab aggregator Ola said it has been working tirelessly to support its drivers over the past few days. “We‘re doing everything we can in these tough times to reduce the economic burden for our driver partners. 30,000+ drivers who have taken a vehicle on lease from Olacabs stand to benefit from this waiver,” said Olacabs co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal.

Prashant Tandor, co-founder of online pharmacy 1mg, said their delivery teams are facing lots of issues on the ground. “Local administration in some places are still not clear that essential services like medicines and lab tests need to be supported, not beaten. Hoping things get streamlined soon,” he said.

Gaurav Agarwal, another 1mg co-founder, requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear the on-ground confusion regarding lock down. “People are stuck at home and all logistics services are facing severe disruption in delivering essential services! How will citizens get food, medicines and other needs fulfilled?” he asked on Twitter.

Netmeds, another online pharmacy service, echoed similar views and said the lockdown has slowed down all its courier services. “All Netmeds orders are being delayed. Although these delays are totally out of our control, we are working closely with all government agencies and couriers to ensure that these essential medicines and healthcare items reach you as soon as possible,” it said in a statement.

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