Like any other food delivery man, Mr Kamas Mohd carries an insulated bag and constantly checks his mobile phone for orders. Unlike other delivery men, though, the 46-year-old does not use a bicycle, motorcycle or car. Instead, Mr Kamas, who suffered a spinal cord injury from a workplace accident in 1996 and is paralysed from the waist down, goes about his daily delivery rounds on a motorised wheelchair with a bag buckled to the back of his seat and a phone strapped to his thigh.
But he stresses that he is not slower than anyone else – he can fulfil a delivery order within the same timeframe of 35 minutes. The para-athlete, who represented Singapore at the 2015 Asean Para Games in wheelchair basketball, signed on to become an UberEats delivery partner in May. He was introduced to the work by his friend after he was asked to resign from his previous job as an assistant land leader at Bizlink Centre, a non-profit organisation that hires persons with disabilities.
There, he managed about 70 others in packing services for goodie bags and letters. Mr Kamas suffered a broken leg last year when he fell while on the way to work. Due to his injury, doctors granted him nearly two years of medical leave in total, but his manager informed him that Bizlink was unable to keep him on the payroll for the entire time. The manager said he could return when his medical leave was over. Mr Kamas, who is divorced with no children and lives alone in a rental flat in Redhill, decided to give the delivery gig a shot.
“I was scared I wouldn’t get the job because of my condition,” he said. But UberEats accepted him and, since May, he has been earning about $400 a week – or about $4 to $10 per delivery. His previous job paid about $530 a month. “I liked my previous job, but the salary was not enough to pay rental and buy food,” said Mr Kamas. “Now, with this job, it is easier. I can follow my own time and target, and earn more.”
Currently, his rent, water and electricity bills, and town council conservancy fees of about $200 a month are being paid for by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. He also receives $300 cash a month. Before his leg injury, Mr Kamas paid his rent and bills on his own and did not receive any financial assistance. When the assistance ceases at the end of the year, Mr Kamas, who once lived at a void deck in Boon Lay for three years, is determined to be financially independent again.
Now, he makes as many as 10 trips a day – up to 11 hours of work – collecting and delivering food to hungry customers in areas such as Tiong Bahru, the Central Business District, Orchard Road and Thomson Road. Rain or shine, he said, he has not cancelled an order so far. “As long as I get a trip, I will go,” said Mr Kamas, adding that he takes a raincoat with him. With his earnings from making deliveries, he has managed to save up enough money to upgrade his wheelchair set-up to a personal mobility scooter, which cost him $1,400. So far, customers’ reactions to his work have been favourable.
Most times, when people see him in his wheelchair, they are either surprised or amazed, he said. Some even tip him generously for his service, he added. A few months ago, Mr Kamas’ story made the rounds on social media after he was featured on Stomp. A customer had praised him for travelling 2.5km on his wheelchair to her home in Stirling Road. He said that seeing his photo being shared on Facebook made him happy. “Maybe then, more people like me will realise they can also do such jobs,” he said.
Source: The Straits Times