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Dedicated deliverymen offered places to rest heads

By HE QI and ZHU XINGXIN in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-11 09:26
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Su Jifeng, 33, a deliveryman for online food platform Meituan, ended his 13-day "vagabondage" in late April and moved into a company dormitory in Shanghai's Putuo district.

Before that, he was one of the dozens of delivery workers who lived under the Wuning Road Bridge across Suzhou Creek in Shanghai, which had been reported on by local media and aroused social concern.

Now Su lives in an eight-person dormitory that charges only 60 yuan ($9) a month until the end of this round of epidemic.

"We can apply for a card to use electricity and hot water here," Su said. "It's really comfortable to take a hot shower and sleep in a real bed."

As an indispensable force to guarantee supplies under closed-loop management in this current outbreak in Shanghai, the city has more than 105,000 deliverymen who have returned to work as of May 3.

Finding a suitable place for them to live is a key problem because many communities are still under closed-loop management where residents are not allowed to go out of their community or subdistrict, and couriers who needed to keep working chose not to go home after work.

The city government announced on April 22 the establishment of service centers for deliverymen, with 143 centers launched in the city, providing food, rest areas and nucleic acid testing.

On April 21, the first service centers-11 hotels-were launched in Huangpu district, offering services for over 500 people from e-commerce platforms such as Dingdong Maicai, JD and Eleme. Meanwhile, nearly 60,000 yuan in supplies such as milk and bread had been sent to these centers.

Aifeel Hotel, one of the service centers in Huangpu district, has a separate floor with 10 single rooms for couriers. Each room costs about 100 yuan a day and is paid for by the lodger's company, according to Yin Tianshun, manager of the hotel.

"Many deliverymen have called to inquire about the accommodation since local media reported about us. It is already full," said Yin.

Arranged by the district's commission of commerce, four service centers have been established in Pudong New Area, which can provide services to more than 1,000 delivery workers.

"Meanwhile, we are also setting up some 40 outdoor tents along the Huangpu River for deliverymen who have no place to live. Each can accommodate two people," said He Juemin, deputy director of the enterprise service center of Pudong New Area's Federation of Enterprises and Entrepreneurs, who helps manage the service centers.

Wang Yinghui, a courier who lives at the center, pointed out that though there are no shower facilities, it is still great to have such a place to live for free.

Both Meituan and Eleme, two major food delivery platforms, said they have cooperated with dozens of hotels to provide free stays for their drivers. Regional managers need to arrange meals and accommodation or provide subsidies for the drivers in the region.

Caring citizens have also joined in to help couriers.

Lu Jun, a member of the Minhang district committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and chairman of Shanghai Yin'ou Investment, is providing free accommodation for JD couriers who've rushed to back up Shanghai.

Nearly 50 JD couriers checked into a newly finished apartment hotel on April 20. Equipped with 24-hour water, electricity and heating facilities, the hotel has a central kitchen to provide three meals a day-all free. Meanwhile, a nearly 1,000-square-meter space has been set up beside the apartment for delivery workers to sort packages.

"We are very moved that they came to support Shanghai. Since our company's apartment hotel is unoccupied, I would like to provide a temporary home for them," Lu said.

"Epidemic prevention and safety are our key concerns," said the hotel's manager Han Beizhong.

"We have professionals responsible for the disinfection of the environment, vehicles and parcels. At the same time, we monitor the body temperature of every courier and conduct antigen tests every day in addition to regular nucleic acid testing."

Su from Meituan was moved when recalling the time he lived under the bridge. He said warmhearted citizens sent various supplies from meal boxes and quilts to masks as well as a thank-you letter expressing appreciation for their contribution to the city.

"I felt the warmth of the city," said Su.

Delivery staff said they hope the epidemic will be overcome soon and that they can finally have a full sleep in their own beds.

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