HO CHI MINH CITY/BANGKOK: As a heatwave engulfed northern and central Vietnam earlier this month, customers reaching for their phones to order food or a ride on the Grab app learned they would have to pay a surcharge.
The extra fee, applied when the local temperature hits 35 degrees Celsius, came months after the Southeast Asian platform company introduced a rainy-weather fee in Vietnam.
“Working under such bad weather conditions can be tough on our driver- and delivery-partners. We want to ensure they are fairly compensated for it,” a Grab spokesperson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the surcharge is 5,000 Vietnamese dong (US$0.21) for Grab’s motorcycle taxi, and food and grocery deliveries, and 3,000 dong for its quick delivery service.
Nguyen Tuan, a Grab driver in Ho Chi Minh City, said the additional payment gave him and his colleagues an incentive, as they have to work regardless of weather conditions.
“If I don’t work, where do I get money to eat? I make a living day by day,” said Tuan, who puts in several hours a day as a food-delivery and motorcycle-taxi driver.
Platform companies offering delivery and ride-hailing services have come under increasing scrutiny for their planet-heating emissions linked to traffic congestion and packaging.
But there has been little discussion of how riders and drivers are dealing with extreme weather, as they often work long hours, waiting at street corners and outside restaurants for orders, and have limited access to medical care.
Only now is the issue starting to grab the public’s attention as climate change brings more frequent and intense heatwaves and floods around the world, raising questions about the health impacts for the must vulnerable in the labour force.