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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Snoonu switches to cars to protect delivery drivers from heat


The Qatari-owned company has taken steps to ensure the safety of its workers during the harsh summer weather. 

Local delivery service Snoonu has announced it will providing cars for delivery riders to protect them from Qatar’s “unbearable heat” during the summer period.

“Sumer heat is unbearable and leads to exhaustion and strokes. Out of our responsibility to maintain the safety of our drivers and protect them from continuous exposure to the sun, only drivers who have a car will take care of the delivery you purchase,” the company said on its Twitter account.

“We invite other delivery companies to participate in this initiative,” it added.

Snoonu is the first – and only – delivery company in Qatar to announce such regulation in order to protect riders from extreme heat stress during the summer, which poses a risk to workers and others on the road.

The Qatari-owned company’s Co-Founder & CEO, Hamad Al-Hajri, told Doha News that despite cars being more costly, the company always puts the safety of their drivers first to ensure they are comfortable and well-protected during their service.

“The bikes are not sustainable. If they have a tire issue, they stop in the heat, which is against any human rights. Not only that, but work conditions are very important too. We are making sure our employees are comfortable. Even if there are no accidents, are they comfortable? Do they like working for Snoonu? Are they happy? Happiness of our riders always come first,” said Al-Hajri.

He added that shifting from fleet to cars was not a one-day decision, but the company has been working on providing enough cars for drivers in the past three weeks before the official announcement.

“We have been preparing for three weeks to have more cars, as we know that heat is not a good condition to work in and isn’t safe for our riders. We also made sure bikes only work starting from 5pm,” he added, noting the move in operation has now been 100% completed.

Snoonu’s “No Drivers Under the Sun’ initiative was announced shortly after several social media users called on the government to include food motorcycle drivers among those that are protected under a law which protects workers from heat stress.

The resolution prohibits out-door workers from working outside between 10am and 3:30pm starting from June 1 and up until September 15 every year.

“I’ve been feeling guilt ordering food lately when the driver calls me and he is out of breath. The regulation implemented for banning work under the direct sun in peak heat season should include motorcycle delivery drivers,” said a Twitter user.

The social media user also added that in the past month alone, he has seen three accidents involving motorcycles delivery drivers.

“This cant be accidental, motorcycle drivers cant even focus on the road in this heat endangering their life and others,” he added.

Read also: Qatari start-up Snoonu partners with Microsoft to ramp up digital transformation.

Others have also joined to demand the protection of delivery drivers from heat-stress related accidents during the summer, which could be easily prevented if all delivery companies adopted the same initiative as Snoonu.

“They should be the first people protected by this mandate, what if a driver faints while on his bike? Why do we have to wait for something bad to happen to pass legislation which could protect these people?,” a Twitter user said.

While Snoonu is trying to protect their workers from heat stress, others claim competitor delivery service companies seem to be taking a step in the opposite direction.

“I’ve seen snoonu having cars for food delivery, why can’t they do that for talabat as well. It is getting ridiculously hot outside,” one Twitter user said.

Head of Talabat in Qatar, Umair Naseem, announced on LinkedIn that the company will provide “electric scooters” for their riders to deliver orders as a “sustainable” alternatives

“Super proud to announce that not only being the market leader comes up with greater responsibility, but also here we are with innovative logistics solution and our one step towards sustainability/eco-friendly to help out our delivery heroes whilst delivering best customer experience,” Naseem said on LinkedIn.

The latest announcement attracted criticism from social media users in the country, however, in a statement to Doha News, Talabat said a large majority of orders are already delivered by drivers in cars.

“Currently, over 70% of the orders placed on our platform, whether they are delivered by Talabat’s own delivery fleet or by the restaurant itself are delivered by cars, which increases significantly during the summer.

“There could be a slight misconception here, as we do not brand our cars – but approximately 66% of our fleet are cars, so for every four motorbikes you see – we actually have around six delivery cars already on the road, in the same area,” the statement said.

New summer labour hours

Last month, Qatar adopted a new set of regulations to provide further protection for workers during the harsh summer period.

The ministerial decision includes expanding prohibited outdoor summertime working hours by six weeks and introducing annual health checks for workers to ensure their safety and well-being during their employment.

A mandatory risk assessment must also be prepared by enterprises.

The new decision, which came into force imminently, aims to reduce the risk of heat stress that workers are exposed to during the summer period, ADLSA explained.

“We are confident that the measures the new Ministerial Decision introduces will help further mitigate the risk of heat stress for workers, which is our health and safety priority during the summer months,” said Mohammed Al Obaidly, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA).

Read also: Qatar swiftly intervenes to resolve salary issues after workers’ protest

Per the new rules, workers will now be prohibited to work outside between 10am and 3:30pm starting from June 1 and up until September 15 every year, the ministry said in a statement.

This replaces earlier legislation issued in 2007 that set the prohibited outdoor summertime working hours from 11:30am to 3:00pm between June 15 until August 31.

In addition, the new resolution states that all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace, regardless of the time. The index takes into consideration the ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed.

This means that workers will not be allowed to work during extremely hot weather, even if it falls outside the set prohibited summertime hours.

Earlier this month, some 54 companies have been fined by authorities in Qatar for failing to comply with a law that bans outdoor work for certain hours during the summer.

The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (ADLSA) announced it had carried out intensive inspections this month, “with the purpose of ensuring that companies adhere to the necessary precautions to protect workers from heat stress in open work sites during the summer period.”

In recent years, the government has been heavily engaged in implementing new laws and regulations to ensure workers’ safety ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

As part of the major labour reform agenda, Qatar has drastically enhanced monitoring across the board to detect violations, enacting swifter penalties and further strengthening the capacity of labour inspectors, according to an announcement made by the Government Communications Office (GCO).

These labour reforms include the introduction of a non-discriminatory minimum wage and the dismantling of the controversial “kafala” or sponsorship system.

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