Road safety fears amid Jeddah food delivery boom

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Demand for food delivery is booming in Jeddah but it comes with a side of road disruptions and traffic due to the increasing number of two-wheelers on the coastal city’s streets.

Some say the boom has transformed roads and drawn thousands of delivery riders into high-risk situations in an effort to deliver food hot and on time. The riders’ behavior is being criticized by those who claim that they drive their motorcycles at high speeds and recklessly, committing violations that may lead to fatal traffic accidents.

In front of one of the famous restaurants in Jeddah, where delivery drivers gather, Pakistani national Irfan Hassan told Arab News: “The way we drive is normal, but the car drivers deal with us with intimidation and harass us. We have a specific time for delivery so that the food does not get cold.

“We know the traffic regulations well,” he added.

The increasing number of food delivery riders has also increased the frequency of traffic crashes involving riders.

Mahmoud Shukry, an Egyptian rider, said: “In almost one year, I’ve been in involved in about 3-4 accidents — some major, some minor.” Shukry added that he knows one rider who died on the job after being hit by a car.

FASTFACTS

• The Transport General Authority recently issued new regulations for order delivery business activities, which will come into effect on April 1.

• The regulations include a uniform for non-Saudis working in delivery services and grant permission to light transport vehicles to display advertisements.

“Last year I had a crash but it was due to the rain. Nothing happened to me, I pulled over and everything was safe,” he said.

Mohammad Al-Malki, 36, a bank employee said: “Most delivery drivers put people’s lives at risk. The way they ride their bikes is frightening and requires intervention.”

He added: “I encountered at least four accidents involving them at the peak of traffic congestion.”

Another delivery driver, Hussain Al-Wadani, from Yemen, said that he has been working in the profession since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Currently, to deliver an order, it ranges between SR20-30 ($5-8), depending on the distance, the size, quality and quantity of the order. Nowadays, if you make around 30 orders a day, the monthly income exceeds SR8,000,” he said.

Columnist Zail Al-Fadel has called authorities to take urgent action against the rapid increase in motorcycle usage, especially by delivery riders: “The rise in delivery motorcycles has led to increased instances of dangerous driving behaviors. This includes speeding, driving around cars in big numbers and engaging in wrong-way driving, which heighten the risks of accidents and compromises overall road safety.”

Ali Malibari, a specialist in transportation and traffic engineering, said that delivery motorcycles have increased traffic congestion on Jeddah’s main streets.

Malibari said: “Bike drivers lack adherence to safety procedures and standards, most notably not wearing a helmet. Unfortunately, the number of motorcycles is constantly increasing.”

He added: “The presence of motorcycles is normal, but it needs legalization and good traffic presence, and there must be awareness of these drivers.”

The Transport General Authority recently issued new regulations for order delivery business activities, which will come into effect on April 1.

The regulations introduce a uniform for non-Saudis working in delivery services, require non-Saudis to work only through light transport companies, grant permission to light transport vehicles to display advertisements, require delivery applications to use face recognition technology to verify a driver’s identity, determine the requirements for the use of motorcycles to deliver orders, in coordination with the General Directorate of Traffic, and stipulate that Saudis may continue to work in the field.

 

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