One primary school dropout has said that he has been making at least $5,000 a month as a food delivery rider – more than what most fresh university graduates earn these days.

Even though he is working 16 to 20 hours a day while braving the elements, Wangan Bryan said this could be his “lifetime dream job”.

“[Being a food delivery rider] is relaxing,” the 21-year-old told AsiaOne on Thursday (April 4) about his “addiction” to work. “I set up my own schedule – what time I start and end work.

“And the wage is pretty decent. I get tips from customers, medical coverage and incentive bonus.”

A TikTok video that Wangan Bryan shared on Monday about his income has garnered over 70,000 views. 

It showed that he made 1,229 deliveries last month, while clocking over 400 hours on the Foodpanda app. In that month alone, he made about $6,800. 

Several netizens congratulated the food delivery rider on his “hard work”, with some reminding him to stay safe and hydrated while on the grind. 

‘My body has to resist the fatigue’ 

Bryan first started as a delivery rider for Foodpanda late last year, after quitting his job as a warehouse assistant.

“I was ostracised from my previous company,” he told AsiaOne, adding that he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and “could not control himself” making weird noises to his colleagues. 

Bryan said that he was expelled from primary school for brawling with the discipline master and assaulting the principal, as well as vandalising the classroom table with a permanent marker.

On his current job, Bryan said he started out earning around $2,900 during the first few months, but saw his income double after making the switch from a bicycle to an electric bicycle.

This meant being able to book more shifts every day.

But Bryan said that he still needed to clock between 14 and 20 hours a day to make an amount that is acceptable to him.

“Most of the time I need to brave the rain or the hot weather,” he said. “And my body has to resist the fatigue while I’m out doing food delivery.”

Despite toiling for long hours, Bryan told AsiaOne he could envision himself working as a food delivery rider until he turns 65.

The primary school dropout added that he has no plans to further his studies, and is saving to “possibly own a private property” and “live independently”.

“It will take several years to get there,” Bryan said. “But [being a food delivery rider] is one of the shortcuts to chase my dreams and turn them into reality”.

Most riders earning less than $3,000 a month

However, not all delivery riders are earning the dollar it seems.

According to findings by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) in 2022, seven out of 10 food delivery riders here reported earning a monthly income of less than $3,000 from delivery work.

This is less than the national median monthly salary of $4,680 in 2021.

Yet roughly four in 10 said they work more than 44 hours a week – the maximum recommended under the Employment Act.

The IPS survey also found two-fifths of the respondents would leave the industry “as soon as possible” if they had other job opportunities.

At the the Symposium on In-Work Poverty and the Challenges of Getting By Among the Young last March, academics pointed out that platform workers need to be educated about the realities of the job, reported Today. 

They said that contrary to the perceived flexibility of being their own boss, workers often find themselves slogging away at a “hand-to-mouth job” and a lifestyle that offers little room for career and income growth in the long term. 

Thian Wen Li, a research associate at the IPS Social Lab, said in the event organised by the National University of Singapore: “Once you stop your hands, your livelihood is jeopardised.”

Shamil Zainuddin, another research associate at the IPS Social Lab, said that gig workers face an unstable and precarious work position regardless of their qualifications. 

ALSO READ: Food delivery rider claims he made $8,500 in one month – is that even possible?

chingshijie@asiaone.com

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