Courier services with this form of transport are growing in Havana, in the face of consumer demand and businesses trying to abide by established physical distancing guidelines.
HAVANA TIMES – After public transport was suspended because of Covid-19 and an irregular fuel supply, alternative forms of transport are taking the lead on Cuba’s roads, especially in the capital.
Electric mopeds, which were already a common sight on Cuban roads, are now the most visible.
They gain points for the energy they consume, the distances they travel every day, how quickly they can be loaded and how light they are, and these points are growing every day.
Lockdown at home and social distancing are having a significant impact on families’ livelihoods. After two months of lockdown, many people are only receiving a percentage of their wage, while others have completely lost their income and smaller businesses are considering closing down.
[In effect some 35% of independent workers (which includes small business owners, employees, vendors of all types and trades people) have temporarily turned in their licences. They are all lumped into this category because Cuba does not recognize small and medium size businesses (SMEs) as such. Likewise, the government has provided no asistence of any kind to this private sector.]
In the face of this complex landscape, those with electric mopeds have opportunities to work, which didn’t exist before or that they didn’t need, some of whom risk working illegally because new licenses have been suspended since April.
“Having this form of transport has been a life-saver in this situation,” Yainiris Diaz told IPS.
“Unfortunately, I am the main breadwinner in my household, where I live with my elderly parents and my young daughter. I don’t have time to spend doing other errands other than our own, but if I could, I would sign up as a courier. It’s a way of helping others and create revenue so as not to spend all our savings,” he shared.
Looking for drivers with their own moped
This job announcement is at the top of many Job ads on Facebook and Cuban classified websites.
While most restaurants offered home-delivery services before the pandemic, they need to increase their courier fleet as a result of the new Coronavirus and an increase in orders for cooked food.
On the other hand, other private businesses that aren’t listed as the most essential in the economy, are rethinking their business in order to avoid shutting down. So, they are choosing to launch calls for alternative delivery services and to keep their businesses running as long as they can.
Drivers with their own mopeds are not only being called for by restaurants and cafes. Weekly Package (a TB of digital information, especially entertainment) distributors are also looking for them, as are clothing stores, crafts and ornamental plant stores, make-up websites, to name a few.
With home-delivery services expanding, people are not only investing in essential items, but other kinds of products, especially for special occasions – such as Mother’s Day in the past and Father’s Day which is around the corner – when tradition compels people to buy presents and sweets.
In addition to courier and postal services looking for responsible drivers, there are other business models linked to this work. Some people were quick to see a new business venture in this market and have begun to set up courier agencies, with the aim of optimizing delivery routes and seeking alliances between private companies.
“I had never thought about becoming a courier, but I don’t have a lot of work right now and I need to bring in money for family expenses,” Ignacio Rodriguez said, who works for a state institution he asked not to be named.
Rodriguez runs routes every day near his home, where he looks for supplies for his own home.
“I try to make the most of going out and the time and moped load. Respecting hygiene measures, this is a good way out of the crisis for moped owners, for business owners who haven’t lost sales, and for customers who receive orders at home for a modest price,” he said.
Courier costs are normally included in the total cost, and this can range between the equivalent of 2-5 USD, approximately, for journeys across the city.
This form of transport was previously used just to get people to work or to sort out family needs, but it has now become many people’s main instrument of work.
So much so, that classified ad websites such as Revolico, are not only calling for people with mopeds, but people are offering their services as well.