Godwin Muzari Lifestyle Editor
There is a nostalgic story that usually makes rounds in social circles of people that lived in local cities about three decades ago.
It is a story about delivery men who were an integral part of business those days.
For convenience, businessmen employed cyclists that delivered heavy goods from the supermarket to a customer’s door step.
“Those days I would just walk into a supermarket and buy 20kg roller meal and give the attendants my house address,” is a common saying from those experienced. “They would deliver within some minutes. Sometimes the delivery man was so fast that he went ahead of me. I would find my roller meal at home by the time I got there.”
Does the story sound familiar?
It has been told and retold as those aged on the upper side of 40 revisit the old way of business transactions.
That was the time when few people owned cars.
These days, many people drive for shopping with their families and the cyclist is probably mending bicycles under a tree shade behind the supermarket he used to work for.
He is probably also telling the young ones coming to have their bicycles fixed about his days as a delivery man for this supermarket right behind him.
About his cycling skills and how he loved overtaking customers and getting ahead of them with their deliveries. Nostalgia.
The most fascinating stories about these delivery men revolve around milkmen.
So many exciting tales, sometimes bordering on mischief, have been told about the men who delivered milk to customers’ houses every morning.
No prize for guessing what author Charles Mungoshi intended to insinuate when he titled his anthology “The Milkman Does Not Only Deliver Milk”.
The stories go on and on. It should have taken a level of artistry to be a milkman.
Well, yesteryear stories are fascinating and the current lockdown should have given elders plenty of time to share their historical experiences with their children and grandchildren who have been forced to spend most of their time at home because of the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
Ironically, the lockdown has also brought back the necessity of the delivery men.
While the dial-a-delivery concept has been utilised by some businesses, especially fast food outlets, over recent years, it was mainly a preserve of the elite until Covid-19-induced lockdown required most people to stay at home.
Now, the delivery men are overwhelmed as people request for their needs and luxuries to be brought home.
The Herald on Saturday Lifestyle sought more information from Blessing Joseph who runs Bike Delivery, a company that provides delivery services for many restaurants and basic goods suppliers in Harare and Bulawayo.
“The lockdown has necessitated home deliveries and our bikers are failing to cope up with demand,” said Joseph. “Our big business is with restaurants where people are ordering food and requesting for home deliveries.
“Because of limitations brought by the lockdown, some people working for essential services cannot go to eat in restaurants, so they are requesting for office deliveries. We have 20 motorcycles and our three-wheelers can carry up to 40kgs, but the demand is too high.
“However, we are grateful for brisk business and we are working to add more motorcycles to our fleet. We work with Munch Zimbabwe, which is a network of various restaurants. People miss going out and the best way to have a feel of restaurant food is to order their favourite dishes and request for home deliveries.”
Joseph said they have taken their bikers through lessons on how to handle business in this time of Covid-19.
“We are strict with our bikers on how they should conduct business,” he said. “They have to take note of all precautions. We have made all the necessary preparations for working in this era.
“We started this business before the lockdown and we were managing to meet the demand for deliveries for restaurant that we were working with. The lockdown has changed everything. Many people want deliveries at home.
“A number of grocery suppliers now need our services. We also have a pending contract with a gas supplier who has been receiving numerous requests for home deliveries. This is a different era with sad implications, but I am happy that we have been able to bring smiles to people that want to spoil their loved ones in this time of lockdown. Besides the business aspect, it is an emotionally satisfying exercise.”
Joseph said working with Munch Zimbabwe has made it easy to connect to different restaurants that are serving their clients in the comfort of their homes.
Tatenda Jakarasi of Munch Zimbabwe said restaurants within their network have had a surge in orders made from home.
“Orders being made from home have gone up sharply since April,” he said. “More restaurants have joined the Munch Zimbabwe network and they are enjoying brisk business because of these orders being made from home.
“People from the Diaspora can order dishes for their friends and relatives back home and everything will be delivered to their doorstep. We work with people that have their cars and motorbikes. These people have been very busy because of many orders that need to be delivered to customers at home. The busiest time for most restaurants is 5pm to 7.30pm.”