A few months ago Ramakant Senapati of Kendrapara came to Bhubaneswar. He had just completed his graduation and was preparing for competitive exams when he realised that he should be self dependant. Ramakant started trying for part-time jobs when one of his friends suggested him to work as a delivery personnel. Soon, Ramakant landed a part time-job with an online food ordering and delivery service company. And it all became easy for Ramakant because he owned a bike and a smartphone.
Motorbikes are no more just a style statement for youngsters. Today, it is generating employment for thousands of youngsters. On-time delivery has become priority for e-commerce and online food delivery service companies. Thus owning a motorcycle has been a blessing in disguise for many who have been struggling to find employment.
“I never imagined that owning a motorbike could help me earn my livelihood. I am earning at the same time get enough time for studies,” says Ramakant, who works as a delivery executive with Zomato, a restaurant search and food delivery service. Ramakant initially used to work for shorter hours but soon found the job lucrative. Today, he works for more than eight hours a day and makes more than Rs 20,000 a month.
Besides local youngsters, there are many like Ramakant who come to Bhubaneswar for either higher studies or to earn a livelihood. Online food delivery service has opened a new avenue for these job seekers.
Biswabasu Samal of Nayagarh came to Bhubaneswar in search of a decent job. But it wasn’t easy for Biswabasu given that he wasn’t highly educated. “I come from a poor family and not highly educated. I joined a courier company at a paltry salary. Luckily I owned a bike and a smartphone which made me eligible for a job with Zomato,” says Biswabasu.
For Biswabasu, the best thing about his job is “flexible working hours”. Moreover, it doesn’t require special training. “When I had bought the motorbike many family members had said that I would now start leading a bohemian lifestyle and ruin my future. However, today my motorbike is helping me earn a decent livelihood,” says Biswabasu.
It has time and again been debated that technology is constantly posing a threat to employment and workforce. But food delivery services like Zomato and Swiggy and ride-hailing services like Rapido are definitely helping in generating employment to thousands. Moreover, education isn’t an eligibility criterion for finding a job with such delivery services.
In fact, a large number of students too are enrolling themselves with food delivery services. Bhubaneswar-based Balakrishna Sahoo, who is pursuing his graduation, says, “I wanted to earn a few extra bucks but couldn’t have managed to get a job because I am still a student. However, the concept of hyperlocal logistics helped me get a job with Swiggy. All I need to do is take my helmet and motorcycle and start working when I have free time,” says Balakrishna.
Balakrishna says that he also has the choice to select the localities where he wants work on a given day. “It’s much like doing a business with zero investment. Moreover, there isn’t much physical stress involved in this job. The more you deliver, the more you earn,” adds Balakrishna.
Understandably, the employees sound happy. That said, riding a bike on crowded streets where one has to constantly negotiate traffic signals and potholes to reach a customer’s address on time also involves risk. However, the delivery service companies provide their employees with proper insurance coverage.
“Safety of our executives is of utmost importance to us. They are the reason behind the success of our business and we are responsible for their safety and security. We ask our delivery executives to wear branded, ISI approved, helmets while going out for delivery,” says a Swiggy official from Bhubaneswar.
Given that motorcycles are more fuel efficient than cars and parcel-delivery vans, an increasing number of delivery companies today prefer hiring executives who own a bike. So much so, that many these days prefer availing motorbikes from ride-hailing services instead of four wheelers. “I love riding my bike whenever I am free. But now I am also earning by riding my bike,” says Santosh Rout of Cuttack.
Santosh is well acquainted with the lanes and by lanes of Cuttack and the traffic snarls. This gave him the idea to register himself with Rapido, a ride-hailing motorbike service. “I am happy riding my motorbike and getting paid by the pillion passenger. I have a fair idea about the traffic in the city but never face any problem as I also know the shortcuts,” he says.
Given that it’s easier for a motorcycle to dodge traffic than a four-wheeler, many are shifting loyalties from ride-hailing car service to motorbikes. Moreover, it also doesn’t pinch your pocket much. “The city roads are congested and the taxi meter keeps rolling. Motorbikes are always a better option. I am sure motorbikes will give four-wheeler taxis a run for their money in future,” says a commuter who regularly avails Rapido’s service.
A spokesperson from Rapido informs that there’s a request for a Rapido every 30 seconds in Bhubaneswar. The company however doesn’t have any immediate plans to add new vehicles in the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar in order to ensure better asset utilisation from the existing ones.
Much like food delivery services bike taxi companies also have flexible working hours. Apart from generating full-time employment, many students are also registering their vehicles with such companies. Given the growing demand of bike taxis, a few other companies too are planning to start their service in the twin cities soon.
However, just owning a bike doesn’t always guarantee a job with these companies. Jamini Prasad of Jagatsinghpur, who owns a sports bike, says that Rapido not only verified his license and PAN number but also took account of his driving experience before employing him.
Also, with more players jumping the bandwagon, employees are fast changing jobs. Jamini was working as a delivery executive with a pizza delivery chain. However, he decided to join Rapido in June 2018 and is happy ferrying people. “Ferrying people is easier than carrying heavy boxes on your back. Also there is no pressure of on-time delivery,” he says.
Today Zomato alone has more than 1,000 delivery boys operating in Bhubaneswar. Others too boast impressive figures. Another reason youngsters find working with bike taxi companies comfortable is that the payment is instant. “I don’t need to wait for a month to get my payment. I get my payment every 15 days with some regular cash flowing in every day,” says Jamini. He makes Rs 800 per day.
At the same time increasing competition is a constant threat for both the employer and employees. Jamini says that he used to earn more as a Rapido rider till a few months ago. “But with the company roping in more people the competition has intensified. It definitely is helping the commuters but we are facing competitions,” he says.
Smruti Ranjan Das of Gatiroutpatna, who works for Uber Eats is happy with his new job but is unsure how long this smooth flow of cash will continue. “I have been working for 50 days but I am not sure how long I will be able to continue. There are new concepts being introduced everyday and something better might come tomorrow and consumers change their preference,” says Smruti.
But owning a motorbike definitely has changed the lives of many. Interestingly, many are even buying new motorbikes in order to become eligible for a job with food-delivery and ride-hailing services. Smruti is just one of those examples. A son of a farmer, Smurti came to Bhubaneswar looking for a job. After failing to secure one, he somehow arranged for a small amount of money to make the down payment for a motorcycle and a smartphone. Today, he earns Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 a day. After paying EMIs he takes home Rs 16,000 a month, an amount that he says he never dreamt of earning.