Since the outbreak of the pandemic, many have had to hunker down at home, and those who handle logistics and delivery services have become so much more than their job descriptions. They are the new lifelines to communities across the globe as they ensure that daily essentials reach housebound consumers in a safe and timely manner.
Yesota Kreshna Pillai, 31, is a Lazada driver. She is one of these essential workers who has been on the front lines since Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) came into force last March. “When the pandemic first hit the country, I was extremely anxious, but I knew that it was my duty and my responsibility to those who rely on us for their daily essentials,” she recalled.
Yesota has been with Lazada for over a year and is the only woman among the delivery drivers at her designated fulfilment hub. Defying the odds, she has thrived in this labour-intensive line of work that often requires her to haul heavy packages and work a grueling schedule. She often has to travel long distances and cope with changeable and sometimes difficult weather and traffic conditions.
Even before the outbreak of the pandemic and the movement curbs, a typical day started for her at 7 a.m. and involved logging many kilometres to deliver an average of 120 packages a day. When the pandemic struck, demand for home deliveries skyrocketed and delivery workloads with added time pressures increased.
“I had to go through two roadblocks every day to reach the customers in my area, temperature checks at each neighborhood building and also location check-ins. In addition, the number of packages that I had to handle increased more than two-fold during the pandemic,” Yesota said.
Rajmahendran A/L Krishuan, her husband of nearly three years, said: “I’m very worried about her because she has to drive all day long and interact with multiple people in order to deliver the packages to customers.” He frets about the health risks frontliners like his wife face in serving the community. Such risks also take a psychological toll on workers and their loved ones, making each work day even more challenging.
“I know that my husband is always worried for me,” Yesota said. “We were open with each other and we talked about the safety precautions and SOPs that were set in order to protect those of us on duty, and that gave him comfort.”
Making health and safety its top priority, Lazada rolled out zero-contact deliveries when the pandemic hit and also implemented other protocols and standard operating procedures to safeguard the well-being of its customers and its frontline staff. Aside from being equipped with protective gear, all of Lazada’s warehouse logistics personnel and delivery teams undergo daily temperature checks and adhere to stringent sanitization processes.
With Yesota so busy, Rajmahendran says he rarely gets to see his wife. “We don’t get to have dinner at night or spend time together during the weekends like we used to. But I understand because I know a lot of people depend on her and the essential service that she provides for the community,” he said. “I’m worried for her safety, but I am also very proud of my wife and I am also thankful to Lazada for putting in place strict measures to protect their frontliners.”
Despite their jobs’ challenges, frontliners like Yesota have remained steadfast in their dedication to serving the community, especially during the toughest of times. For these unsung heroes who travel far and wide, having their efforts recognised and appreciated goes a long way.
“There were instances where I was gifted with masks and bottled mineral water by customers,” Yesota said. “When I see the smiles on customers’ faces after receiving the packages I delivered to them, for me, it makes my job worth it.”
Jeremy Ng is an associate in Lazada Malaysia’s public relations team.
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