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Uber enables on-demand last-mile deliveries for SA businesses

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 22 Apr 2020

E-hailing company Uber has introduced Uber Direct, an on-demand and scheduled last-mile delivery solution for businesses in SA.

The company says the lockdown has resulted in essential movement only, affecting retailers and businesses and limiting access to essentials like medication and food, especially for those most vulnerable.

It notes the power of this solution is evident in Uber’s recent partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to Uber, several NGOs and their critically important community health workers are now able to collect and deliver medication to those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

In the first two weeks of the partnership, over 25 000 people received their medication, with many more safe and contactless deliveries being made daily, it says.

Dr Giovanni Perez, chief director of Metro District Health Services at the Western Cape government Department of Health, says: “This partnership is a great example of how the public and private sector can work together, regardless of any challenges, for the well-being of the people.”

Oumar Seydi, Africa director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, highlights how important this initiative is as part of the COVID-19 response: “Finding innovative ways of protecting the most vulnerable populations is critical at this time and we are honoured to be part of this innovation to get medication in the hands of those who need it most.”

Uber says millions of people around SA go without food each day, and with the lockdown and continued call for self-distancing, this number is expected to increase.

SA Harvest, a food rescue organisation that aims to eradicate food waste, is using Uber Direct to expand and optimise deliveries to its beneficiary organisations in the Western Cape.

Uber says this ensures more food-vulnerable people are being fed daily and will further allow SA Harvest to expand its deliveries in Gauteng in the coming weeks.

It adds that people are looking for ways to get essential goods and other necessities delivered quickly and conveniently, while businesses are looking for an efficient way to reach their customers.

However, it notes, many may find themselves struggling to meet the demand at this time. Businesses can use Uber Direct to move their goods within their supply chain, and between locations to better balance supply and demand, ensuring customers receive their orders when required, it explains.

Alon Lits, director for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, explains: “This is our broadest effort yet to help businesses meet unprecedented demand for delivery, and helping people stay at home while still getting the items they need.

“Uber Direct also allows us to unlock economic opportunities for delivery people and drivers now and beyond the lockdown. Safety continues to be a top priority, and we are regularly providing drivers and delivery people with information to help them stay safe.”