Coronavirus: Grab centre shuts after many drivers turn up for delivery bags

Police called in to ensure safe distancing outside Sin Ming office after many gather to collect bags

Private-hire drivers outside Grab's office in Sin Ming Lane yesterday, with a few police officers maintaining order. In an update later, Grab said eligible drivers would be able to start delivering food and parcels by the end of the day, even if they
Private-hire drivers outside Grab's office in Sin Ming Lane yesterday, with a few police officers maintaining order. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
One Grab driver estimated that there were about 300 to 400 people in the queue when she arrived at the centre at 10.30am.
One Grab driver estimated that there were about 300 to 400 people in the queue when she arrived at the centre at 10.30am.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

A Grab office had to abruptly shut down temporarily yesterday after a large number of drivers turned up to collect bags for food delivery, making it difficult to comply with safe distancing measures.

Pictures and videos circulating on social media showed dozens of people crowding outside the Grab office at Midview City in Sin Ming Lane, with a few police officers standing at the entrance.

The police said they received a call for assistance at the Grab centre around 11.10am.

They added that the involved parties were advised to "maintain peace and adhere to safe distancing measures". "They complied and no further police assistance was required," a police spokesman said.

In a message to drivers yesterday afternoon, Grab said: "Due to the crowd at our Grab Driver Centre, we regret to inform that the centre is closed to protect your well-being and comply with safe distancing measures."

It apologised for the inconvenience caused.

In an update later, Grab said eligible drivers would be able to start delivering food and parcels by the end of the day, even if they had not collected the food delivery bag.

But it urged drivers who have not collected the GrabFood halal bag to use different bags of their own for storing halal and non-halal food separately.

A 47-year-old Grab driver who declined to be named said there were about 300 to 400 people in the queue. She had received a message from Grab that yesterday would be the first day for bag collection. She arrived at the Grab centre at 10.30am and queued for about 11/2 hours before Grab staff told the crowd to disperse.

"Everyone was frustrated because we queued for so long and the weather was so hot," she said.

"But at least Grab has activated our account so we can now start doing delivery jobs."

A Grab spokesman told The Straits Times that "many applicants" turned up at the office to collect food delivery gear yesterday, in response to an extended pilot programme that lets private-hire drivers and taxi drivers deliver food and parcels to help meet the increased demand for home deliveries.

 
 
 
 

"Unfortunately, we had to turn a proportion of them away, in line with the latest circuit breaker measures, as well as to ensure the safety of all," said the spokesman.

"We would like to take this opportunity to assure our partners that they will be able to apply for an appointment slot to collect their delivery gear soon."

Those who wish to pick up delivery gear can now do so from 10am to 6pm on weekdays, but only after making an appointment.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2020, with the headline 'Grab centre shuts after many drivers turn up for delivery bags'. Subscribe