Indian food delivery giant Zomato Ltd is facing backlash on social media for its plan to roll out a 10-minute food service which critics say increases road safety risks for delivery workers.
CEO Deepinder Goyal said in a post Monday evening that the service “Zomato Instant” would rely on a densely localized network of so-called food “finishing stations,” which house restaurants’ top-selling items and use a sophisticated demand prediction algorithm.
“No one in the world has delivered hot and fresh food in less than 10 minutes on a large scale so far,” Goyal wrote on LinkedIn and Twitter. “We were eager to be the first.”
In a few hours, ZomatoThe announcement sparked a flurry of responses. A lawmaker questioned the business model while executives raised concerns about driver safety on Indian roads.
Zomatowhich counts Chinese group Ant as an investor, did not respond to requests for comment.
Many on social media have urged a rethink, saying food can wait as even ambulances in India are taking longer to reach patients. Some on LinkedIn questioned the need for such a model.
“I don’t want to eat food someone brought to me while putting their life at risk,” wrote Gunjan Rastogi, a researcher at RSB Insights & Analytics in India.
Karti P. Chidambaram, an Indian lawmaker, tweeted: “This is nonsense! This will put undue pressure on the delivery staff.
the Zomato The CEO’s announcement on Monday began by saying, “We’ll start with a clarification…we’re not putting any pressure on delivery partners.”
After failing to convince many, Goyal posted another tweet on Tuesday emphasizing that the delivery will be “safe” for riders who will face no penalties, urging people to understand the model “before outrage”.
“Quick-trade” grocery startups in India have been all the rage with SoftBank-backed Blinkit and its rapidly expanding rival Zepto. Reuters reported in January that delivery bikers said they were pressured to meet deadlines, often resulting in speeding tickets, for fear of being reprimanded by store managers.
Critics say the risks are too high on Indian roads. Even in cities, most roads are riddled with potholes and motorists break basic rules. The World Bank says India has one fatality every four minutes on its roads and crashes kill around 150,000 people every year.
Nevertheless, many customers have been attracted to fast-food grocery services to meet their instant shopping needs.
“I would be happy to have my food in 10 minutes,” LinkedIn user Sonu Sekharan said.