SINGAPORE - ComfortDelGro cabbies are being trained to deliver groceries from RedMart to help ease the delivery crunch that has bedevilled the online grocery platform.
Some of ComfortDelGro's fleet of 10,000 taxis will soon be deployed as RedMart delivery vehicles, a move that will provide much-needed income for idle cabbies and get groceries to customers quicker.
Many RedMart users have complained that they cannot secure delivery slots from the popular online grocer. A check at about 3pm on Tuesday (April 14) showed that there were no slots available for the next three days for the Upper Thomson area.
RedMart said on Facebook on April 5 that it has seen an 11-fold increase in the number of customers, and it will increase its workforce by 500 in the warehouse and delivery teams to cope with the surge.
Interested cabbies are being trained to pick up orders from RedMart's warehouse in Alexandra Terrace and make contactless deliveries directly to a customer's doorstep.
The aim is to have cabbies up to speed so that they can begin the trial programme by the end of April, said ComfortDelGro and Lazada, which is Redmart's parent company.
Mr Tommy Tan, ComfortDelGro Taxi's chief operating officer, said he has seen "strong interest" among drivers, adding: "The Covid-19 situation has been incredibly challenging for our cabbies and the elevated safe distancing measures will make it even worse.
"With the big mismatch in demand and supply for food and groceries, we reached out to RedMart."
The tie-up materialised after the Government temporarily eased point-to-point regulations to allow taxi drivers and private-hire car drivers to participate in delivery service trials to address the demand for home deliveries.
RedMart said it has recently refocused on essential goods, which has helped it quadruple the number of orders it can take.
"Since we started experiencing a growing surge of orders in February, we've worked at expanding our logistics and delivery workforce to better satisfy the demand," said Mr Jamil Khan, executive vice-president of Lazada eLogistics Singapore.
"With ComfortDelGro, we are assured of a clean fleet of vehicles as well as a pool of drivers who can help ease the delivery capacity."
ComfortDelGro has also tied up with McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut and Foodpanda to deliver food.
The firm has waived taxi rentals from April 7 to May 5 so all fares that drivers collect go straight into their pocket, a move that could cost ComfortDelGro about $19 million.
The coronavirus pandemic has hammered taxi use, with many cabbies saying that fare income has fallen by as much as 60 per cent.