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Delivery drivers deserve ‘a steady income’, say UAE operators

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Motoboy want an all-electric fleet within five years
  • Drivers work long hours with majority of income commission-based
  • Costs AED1 per 100km for electric bikes, AED5.65 for fuel-driven bikes

Motoboy, a Dubai-based delivery operator who entered the market in December last year, believes all drivers in the sector should be paid a fair wage and should not be expected to cover operating expenses for their employers.

In early May, delivery drivers at Talabat, the Middle East unit of Germany’s Delivery Hero, and British operator Deliveroo refused to work, calling for better pay and working conditions.

It came to light that some drivers were paid commission and were also expected to cover fuel costs as well as expenses related to their employment visas and medical insurance.

“Delivery riders work long hours for minimum wage and the majority of their income is commission-based,” Farid Dallal, founder and CEO of Motoboy, said.

“They bear a large amount of costs and then have to use the remainder of their earnings to support their families in their native countries.

“With only a small portion being saved, riders are unable to improve their living standards despite all the hard work they do,”

However, at his firm, he decided to do things differently. “At Motoboy, we wanted to ensure our couriers are given equal opportunity to earn a steady income and have focused our business model towards an employee-centric approach.”

With costs for non-oil businesses in the UAE now at a three and half year high, Motoboy drivers do not have to cover the cost of rising fuel prices.

“When the fuel is increasing, there’s no change in their salary,” Dallal said. “That’s the problem.

“When the guy has to put more pay into the fuel what happens then? His income is going to be less, then he will be working more hours which is not as per the UAE labour law.”

While fuel costs continue to rise, Motoboy is also pushing to make its fleet more sustainable and is described as the UAE’s first and only Road and Transport Authority-approved electric bike logistics solutions provider.

Person, Human, Suit
Motoboy founder and CEO Farid Dallal

The company has a fleet of 35 bikes, 20 of which are electric. Dallal is aiming to eventually have the entire fleet 100 percent electric.

The electric bikes can travel 150 kilometres from a full battery and take around five hours to fully recharge using a normal electric socket.

The company carried out a study a few months ago and found that, on average, it cost around 1 dirham ($0.27) per 100 kilometres to charge the electric bikes, compared to AED5.65 or more per 100km for fuel-driven bikes.

Dallal is aiming to expand to Abu Dhabi by the first quarter of next year and, within five years, make all bikes and cars electric.

Motoboy isn’t the only homegrown delivery company who decided to break the mould early on and pay its workers a fixed salary.

Rami Shaar, the CEO and co-founder of door-to-door laundry app Washman, said in a post last month that 85 percent of its drivers are full-time employees, with the remaining hired through agencies during peak times but with all drivers treated equally.

Shaar pointed out that over half of its drivers have remained with the firm for over three years and it also has a bonus, tipping and internal promotion system in place.

“Delivery drivers are an essential part of our day-to-day life in this day and age; particularly in a progressive and tech-centric city such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi,” Shaar said in an online blog post.

“During the pandemic, they played a vital role in supporting our communities in maintaining their lifestyles while keeping safe.

“Our business faced immense financial danger during the early phase of the pandemic and without the support, patience, and loyalty of our drivers and the rest of our team, we wouldn’t be here today.”

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