By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: Kuwait announced rules this week that will severely limit the routes motorbike delivery riders can take. From October 3, motorbike delivery riders are banned from almost all the major roads including First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ring Roads as well as Highways 30, 40, 50, 60 and 80. The decision is aimed at pushing back against a growing number of traffic accidents involving motorcycles.
Delivery by motorcycle, once a rarity in Kuwait, has boomed during the pandemic period and there are now thousands of motorcycle delivery riders on the roads. These riders are pushed for time and often work on commission, meaning the more deliveries they make, the more money they earn. This had led some to ride fast and recklessly, often cut through lanes of traffic or use major highways despite the danger to themselves or others.
Restaurants and delivery services, however, oppose the new regulations. “It will definitely affect the business but more so for the riders because at the end of the day they are running after the commission,” explained the operation manager of a well-known delivery service in Kuwait. “We can still continue to deliver and give what is ordered by our customers but the speedy delivery which we promised to our valued customers will be changed as well,” the operation manager noted.
The impact on income for delivery riders who already earn poverty wages is a main concern. “I can no longer go fast and reach my destination on time in addition to expenses from my side, because everything about the motorbike, including maintenance and daily gasoline expenses, is normally charged under my account,” said Niraj, an Indian motorbike delivery rider.
“This is harsh but what to do? Now I have to discover new routes going to Fahaheel or Jahra without using major highways heading there,” he said. Asked on how much commission he could lose with the new traffic regulations, “Maybe at least KD 100 per month, so I can no longer get extra on my regular salary monthly income of KD 300,” he said.
Some delivery companies pay flat fees and this may be the future model for all delivery companies. “Whether they will implement it [the ban] or not, I will receive exactly the same amount of salary per month,” said Jerry, a Filipino who delivers fastfood from a Salmiya restaurant via motorcycle. “We do not get any commission at all; however, we get tips from our customers.
There are some generous customers who don’t care if the delivery is slow. At least I got a minimum of KD 100 per month, plus the KD 300 salary. I think that is good enough,” he explained. The traffic department has not published exact figures with regards to motorcycle-related accidents for 2020 or 2021 so far.