In many countries around the world, doctors, nurses, lab scientists and other frontline health workers in battle against Coronavirus are being celebrated and honoured. They deserve the honour as our heroes, who put their lives at risk so we can live as the world continues to fight an invisible common enemy called COVID-19.
While countries as part of steps to halt the spread of the virus implement ‘stay at home’ orders and social distancing measures, remote or virtual office and online shopping have been keeping what is left of the disrupted business ecosystem and livelihood going.
However, unlike the healthcare professionals, the bridge connecting the virtual and reality divide is relatively uncelebrated. As individuals in the last-mile delivery value chain – agents, drivers and bike riders working for e-Commerce companies like Jumia and the rest, despite also providing humanitarian services and risking their lives all in bid to get essentials such as foodstuff, toiletries and medicines to people at homes, have remained largely unsung heroes.
In fact, amidst the lockdowns, the world of last-mile delivery workers and those providing logistics is a challenging one. According to a section of them spoken to, driving on virtually empty roads carrying essential items to people’s homes, the fear of contracting Coronavirus and the frequent sad news of increasing number of confirmed cases and fatalities over the media channels are real threats they dread most every day.
In the words of Adebisi (not real name as he pleaded anonymity), a Jumia contactless delivery agent, hopping on the bike taking delivery of tons of orders for groceries, foodstuff, sanitary and hygiene products to people at home and medications to the sick and the elderly persons in their homes, is an assignment that comes with lot of pressure and hazards.
“A lockdown means there are increased orders for groceries and other essentials on the e-Commerce platforms like Jumia and this puts more pressure on the delivery department. I leave home every morning putting on all protective kits provided by the company, but still wary of the risk involved in the process even with the limited human contact,” he said.
Being human, Adebisi further explained the reality he and his colleagues are faced with in the discharge of their job amidst the pandemic. “We are always scared that the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Nigeria is increasing by the day, which means the risk of contracting the virus is high. We get orders and go out for deliveries, but we know that the more you go out, the higher the risk of contracting the virus,” he asserted.
Sharing the same sentiment, Stanley (who volunteered his first name only), said having smooth ride on the usually busy traffic-prone Lagos roads often reminds him of the danger posed by the faceless pandemic. His words: “Whenever I remember why the roads are free and what is keeping people indoors, I quickly adjust my helmet to ensure my face is well covered. Of course, we now do more delivery of groceries and other essential items like toiletries within a few minutes, but it’s at a higher risk.”
While further buttressing the work risks associated with providing logistics at this challenging time, Godwin, a Byte Labs Logistics rider, said his recent delivery of medical items at the gate of the Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba gave him a good idea of the pandemic just seeing fully kitted doctors, nurses and other healthcare givers from afar in their personal protective equipment and kits.
“I know the risk of what I am doing at this time, though I have hand sanitizers and disinfectants, which I use on my hands and my bike every morning before setting out and at regular intervals. I am scared anytime I hear in the news that some doctors have died of Coronavirus infection. Those doctors had more protection than us, yet they couldn’t help it,” he stated.
Excited by the humanitarian interventions by e-Commerce operators like Jumia, a Lagos-based barrister at law, Esther, who admitted that she has not stepped out of her residence since the lockdown began, disclosed that since her first experience of taking food delivery via O’Food a few months ago, she has used Jumia Food delivery six times in the last two weeks. “Getting six orders delivered within two weeks with the present reality, mean these guys are doing a great job. And they are also risking a lot in doing so,” she enthused.
In spite of the risks associated with being at the forefront of delivering groceries, food and essential items to people at their homes, another significant thing worthy of mention is that e-Commerce operators like Jumia are not only supporting the humanitarian needs in efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic, they have also been supportive of many Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to stay afloat while the lockdown lasts. “Many restaurants, kitchens and pharmacies now use the logistics channels of e-Commerce operators to reach their customers during this lockdown,” Godwin added.
Sunday Animashaun, who works with MPT Logistics, could not hide his joy about the positive impact the e-Commerce operation has had on his finances amidst the lockdown. According to him, due to the close down of businesses by most of his customers providing non-essential services, his association with some delivery agents working with e-Commerce operators motivated his foray into the delivery of foodstuff and groceries to customers at home.
“I was not used to doing foodstuff delivery, but I must confess that I’ve had more connection in this regard since the lockdown. Majority of my deliveries these days are foodstuffs. I interact with riders from the likes of Jumia, and I was motivated to be involved in the supply of essential items especially foodstuffs. It’s these guys that make groceries delivery. But I’m now fully into it as well,” he stated.
As the world continues the search for a cure for Coronavirus and government especially the federal and state governments in Nigeria intensify efforts to flatten community transmission of COVID-19, it is hoped that the strategic role of last-mile delivery workers as front-liners that keep lives and businesses afloat in time of lockdown would be accorded its rightful place.
By Segun Koiki
BUA SUGAR REFINERY LATEST: TRADE & INDUSTRIES MINISTER ADEBAYO REVERSES EARLIER DIRECTIVE ON SUGAR IMPORTATION FROM FREE TRADE ZONES INTO NIGERIA
Days after, sending out an earlier letter to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed prohibition the importation of sugar from free trade zones, in Nigeria, the Minister of Trade Industries and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo has backtracked and reversed himself.
Adebayo, acting on a controversial petition written to him by the Chairman Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote and Chairman, Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC, Mr John Coumatros had written a letter which he copied the Managing Director Nigeria Ports Authority, Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation prohibiting the importation of sugar from the country’s Free Trade Zones. This move was targeted at BUA sugar refinery as well as investments.
Recall that BUA Group Chairman, Samad Rabiu had reacted to the petition by revealing that his investments in sugar, especially the Port Harcourt project did not pose any threat to the country’s sugar policy. According to Samad Rabiu, his was project indeed, meant to checkmate arbitrary increase in prices and which will ultimately benefit the ordinary Nigerian on the street.
Curiously, some agencies of the Federal Government especially the NPA, had acted on the Minister’s directive by directing all Terminal operators to ensure strict compliance with the Minister’s order, despite a court injunction refraining not only the Ministry but all government agencies from disturbing it’s operations pending the determination of a suit filed by BUA group.
The move to disrupt BUA’s activities depsite the injunction clearly embarrassed the government, hence Adebayo’s quick reversal of his earlier stance and letter to the Finance Minister directing that the action be stopped.
As for Hadiza Bala Usman who was in a hurry to overlook the court order, she has since been suspended from office as the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority while an Acting CEO has been appointed in person of Mohammed Koko, the erstwhile Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
THE COMPLICITY OF NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER IN CORRUPTION AND BANDITRY IN ZAMFARA STATE
During the 8-year reign of former Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State , there is hardly a week the state is not in the news for either killings of scores of Zamfarans or kidnapping of them in large numbers. So bad it was during his tenure that the only presence of security is the escort services provided by security agents for workers on Yari’s farm.
It is despicable and rather unfortunate that a man who is battling to clear his name from many allegations of fraud and unprecedented corruption in Zamfara is seen flying around in a Nigerian Airforce Jet.
Mungono’s lackluster performance to rejig the security architecture which has led to breakdown of law and order has portrayed the Presidency in bad light as failing in its duty to provide security and welfare of its citizenry.
The approval of the use of NAF jet by Abdulaziz Yari which allegedly came from the office of the National Security Adviser further lent credence to the claims among Nigerians that the APC-led government is not serious about fighting corruption and insecurity.
Assuming without conceding that Yari facilitated the use of the aircraft on his own, one wonders an emergency situation that would warrant a former governor enjoying such luxury even when the allegations of corrupt enrichment is still hanging on his neck.
The National Security Adviser has yet again confirm the call for his removal over incompetence and that the reason for his call and advise for the declaration for a “No fly Zone” in Zamfara is unprofessional, partisan and may not be to secure the country as he would want people to believe.
By Hamid Shinkafi
Public affair analyst
Rural Resident Expresses Satisfaction On Jumia Service Delivery
At the current pace, there’s no denying the improved fortune of eCommerce in Africa. Even the most ardent doubters of eCommerce viability on the continent will accept that the online shopping business is gaining momentum on the continent, contrary to their forecast and expectations.
Major African markets like Nigeria and Kenya are improving their internet penetration while the number of mobile phone users is rising exponentially. This, in turn, is boosting the online market entrants in urban locations and gradually rubbing off on rural settlements.
As a result, the conversation around eCommerce in a major market like Nigeria has gravitated from doubts on feasibility and acceptance to quality of service delivery, customers expectations and satisfaction. With at least 87 e-commerce platforms in Nigeria, the online shopping community is increasing by the day with innovation and bespoke approaches to address the challenges of the market and meet customers expectations.
In the thick of this, some customers are already having a glimpse of what eCommerce offers at its peak, thanks to the effort of key market players. Iteshi Prince Izuchukwu, a businessman based in Rivers State said he likes shopping online because of the price slash. Based on his experience with several online shopping platforms, he was quick to acknowledge the extra effort of Africa’s market leader on its quality of service delivery. “Things I order include Television, Wristwatches and others. When I buy these items on Jumia, they deliver on time and in good condition,” he stated.
In today’s market where customers demand value for every penny spent, a well thought out packaging that meets the aesthetic taste of the customers can spell a huge impact on the eCommerce business. It can help reduce the volume and cost of return, foster customer loyalty and put the brand in the face of prospects. “I always feel happy when what I ordered is being delivered to me. And as a businessman, I want value for money which I can say I am getting on a platform like Jumia,” Izuchukwu said.
With continuous effort by eCommerce brands to meet customers’ quality, timely and packaging expectations in their service delivery, testimonials like this will go a long way in getting more people onboard the online shopping train.
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