Shanghai cops warn food delivery firms after courier deaths

BEIJING • Chinese police in Shanghai have warned food delivery companies that they need to do more to ensure their couriers follow traffic regulations, after 76 were killed or injured in the city in first half of this year, state media said yesterday.

Services ordered via smartphone apps have shot up in China.

Meals ordered online and delivered by courier are a key battleground, with the industry due to reach 300 billion yuan (S$61.5 billion) in 2018, more than double last year, according to food delivery company Meituan-Dianping.

But companies are failing to stop the rapidly expanding number of riders who zip down city streets - and sometimes pavements - on electric bikes from breaking traffic rules, said Shanghai's traffic police.

The police called in eight companies that offer food delivery after a spate of recent accidents, according to The Paper, a Shanghai government-backed online publication, Reuters reported.

Deputy head of Shanghai traffic police Wang Liang said most companies have measures requiring couriers to follow traffic rules, "but there remains a problem of whether these requirements and rules for couriers are truly entering their ears, brains and hearts".

The police told companies to put in place traffic rule training, ensure that all vehicles are properly registered, adopt a point system for violations, and put in place real-name verification for drivers, the report said.

Pressure has also been growing in Singapore for greater safety for delivery riders.

Last year, there was an initiative to get food delivery companies behind the Singapore Ride Safe (SRS) campaign.

A number of delivery companies made pledges during the event to encourage safer riding habits.

While there were no specific figures showing how many food delivery riders were injured or killed on the job, accidents involving them made the news occasionally.

At the SRS event last year, the authorities had encouraged the practice of "wearing safe and riding safe" for food delivery riders. At this year's event, which took place on Aug 19, delivery riders who rode in long-sleeved attire and jackets formed part of the convoy which included 15 motorcycle clubs.

•Additional reporting by Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Shanghai cops warn food delivery firms after courier deaths'. Print Edition | Subscribe