Maldives has confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in the capital city Male’ and with this, the government has declared a 24-hour lockdown in the Greater Male’ area. As the lockdown was declared in less than 24 hours of the first case of the virus in the city, many were not prepared for the lockdown. Several shops have started delivery services, and many are relying on them for essential items.
Maldives Police Service has stated that shops can deliver goods from 9 am to 2 pm, from 3 pm to 6 pm, and 8 pm to 11 pm. Around 14 stores will be providing delivery services in Male’.
However, with less than 24 hours into the lockdown, the public started complaining about the delivery service system. Numerous customers have complaints about shops not answering the calls, numbers being unreachable, and some shops do not make the delivery after taking the order.
In response to the complaints, shop owners have said that the problem in answering calls and in delivery is high demand. The demand for delivery is very high and they are having problems meeting the high demand with limited passes. In addition to that, as they are getting several orders each hour but since delivery timings are limited, there are delays in the delivery.
To the nine stores operating delivery services in Male’, some have been given only two passes by the authorities. With the orders increasing by each hour, and with only 2 passes for delivery, stores are struggling to meet the orders.
Maldives society has not been used to buying groceries online and this maybe the cause for the struggle.
When the epicenter of this virus Wuhan was in a strict lockdown, the city showed a great example of efficient delivery systems. Citizens of Wuan lockdown in their homes were provided with essential items, such as fruits and vegetables and sanitary products through the delivery system only. The city was able to be under lockdown for 2 months is because the public was able to obtain necessary items. E-commerce was a community mainstay in helping Wuhan mitigate the effects of a lockdown.
In Milton Keynes, England, miniature autonomous vehicles are used to deliver food to almost 200,000 residents of the town. Maldives has a long way to go before arranging robots to make deliveries, however, we can also bring vast improvements to our delivery system.
The lockdown in the Greater Male’ City area has been further extended for 24 hours, and it is expected to continue if more cases of COVID-19 are found in the city.
Point to be noted is that Maldives is still doing better than some countries in providing the delivery services. For instance, initially, when India declares a 21-day lockdown, the country’s largest e-commerce marketplaces Flipkart and Amazon suspended their services due to mass confusion in strict rules. Later on, Amazon resumed its services.
Hence, we need to be patient and humble during this time. Our retailers are doing their best to adjust to new changes and authorities are working on improving the delivery system.