Shanghai’s lockdown has been dragging on for five weeks and has made the lives of over 25 million residents depend entirely on delivery riders for food and other supplies.
Residents have suffered the strict measures in some way or another, and the lives of about 20,000 deliverymen has not been easy at all.
As BBC reported, this workforce has struggled harder under the shortage of food, water, and shelter. Those who work for companies can at least stay in hotels, but those who take online orders do not have where to sleep, as residential compounds do not let them in for fear they could bring the virus to the communities.
One delivery rider shared his harrowing experience. He has been homeless since April 8. His residential compound manager asked him to stay in the blue tents set up for COVID testing in exchange for delivering them supplies. So, he took his things there and slept there at first. Then, the tent disappeared together with his belongings. Nobody could help him, and he resorted to finding outdoor shelters.
Vacancies under bridges have become ideal shelters for delivery people. If it rains, they try to find a place like an ATM room. However, police officers can show up and chase them away.
These policemen require the homeless to go to homeless shelters. However, according to these riders, the centers are not open. They have tried to get there several times, but no one answered, not even security guards.
Sleeping places are not a particular challenge they face every day under lockdown. They are all afraid of getting into a scooter fatal accident without people around for help or having their vehicles broken down without places to fix them—which means they can no longer work. Getting infected with Covid-19 is another fear they have too.
The income in Shanghai as a delivery rider is not as high as rumors say.
Some advise others not to take this job because the earnings are not comparable with the hardships they endure every day. However, they are forced to do it because they have no other job opportunities under the government’s strict lockdown.
Another delivery rider told the BBC that he has been sleeping on the street with a shortage of food and water. He knows at least 40 other riders in the same situation.
“My feet stink so bad you can smell them from a distance! I’ll shower eventually, maybe after the lockdown lifts,” he said.
Living under lockdown for a long time, all he expects is to return to his hometown. However, he does not know if he can leave the city as the government currently chases residents back to the city when they drive out to the highway.
He told the BBC, “I’m just waiting for the lockdown to be lifted. I’ll leave then. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on for.”
He continued, “I’m so done with Shanghai. Once I leave, I’ll never come back.”
Delivery workers are not the only vulnerable people who are badly affected by the government’s tight epidemic control measures following the Zero-Covid policy. Most residents turn to social media to express their anger and share their plight.