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Political adviser joins ranks as part-time courier

Updated:2022-04-22 10:10:34   China Daily

When the Shanghai government imposed a lockdown to contain the spread of its worst COVID-19 outbreak in over two years on April 1, the city was split into two-people that needed deliveries and people that were delivering.

In normal times, Shao Nan wears many hats. He is a political adviser to the city government, a partner at a venture capital consultancy, vice-chairman of a professional association, and more recently he has become a deliveryman.

Shao signed up and began working as a part-time courier for an online delivery platform on March 31, the day before the city was shut down.

When he was given the choice of what he wanted to deliver from the platform, he chose medicine.

"People can get by without vegetables because you've always got something in the cupboard at home," he said. "But many people with chronic illnesses cannot live without their medicine.

"Because I was new to it all, it took me a while to find the right pharmacy, get the orders and deliver them to customers' communities," he said. "My very first customer even gave me a tip!"

Immediately after Shao had finished his first delivery, his second order came in. While out on his scooter processing the order he noticed his battery was running low and so he was forced to drive carefully to eke out enough electricity so he could fulfill the order.

"It was already very late, and I waited for a long time before I managed to get a ride back home," Shao said. "But the feeling of being needed made me think it's all worth it."

In the following days, Shao completed some 30 medicine deliveries, and used every opportunity he had to talk with other couriers, noting down the common problems they encountered.

"I was trying to understand the profession and the city through the perspective of an ordinary courier," said Shao, who is also a member of the China Democratic League.

"We are members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and we have the responsibility to submit proposals and suggestions gathered at the grassroots of society."

Because of strict epidemic control measures, many couriers are forced to take longer routes to get their deliveries where they need to go. Another issue faced by couriers is the ability to customize the pickup of particular orders, such as only picking up orders for medicine.

Shao now understands how tough life can be for an ordinary deliveryman. "When I started work at 9 am, the top-ranked courier on the platform had already completed 42 orders," he said. "He probably started at midnight and skipped breakfast."

After two weeks of being a part-time courier, Shao submitted a suggestion to the city government to make maps available that show blocked roads and closed-off entries to residential quarters, and to provide green channels for the delivery of medicine.

Shao said he was glad to see the government e-platform had added a new service for medicine prescription on Saturday, which integrates 85 online hospitals and has a dedicated distribution team.

"Logistics are the capillaries of a city, and we should make sure they are not clogged up at this time," he said.

"People have asked me when I'll quit this part-time job. I said when the lockdown is lifted, when more couriers are back at work, and when I, as a deliveryman, am no longer needed."

Keywords:   Shanghai COVID-19