Uber India has tied up with e-commerce giant Flipkart to help deliver essential commodities to consumers amid the ongoing 21-day lockdown. The new initiative comes days after Uber inked several similar deals with retail chains Big Basket and Spencer’s Retail. The service will initially be available in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, with a further expansion also on cards.

Prabhjeet Singh, director of operations and head of cities Uber India, said the innovation was a first in India and will help the cab owners and drivers maintain their livelihood besides helping the society at large. He also said the company was in talks with other retailers who may mutually benefit from the initiative.

“Flipkart being a leading e-commerce player with a dedicated customer base, this service will help to reach a lot of people. We are exploring opportunities to expand it to other cities,” Singh said.

“This service will enable containment of COVID-19 and also offer our driver-partners opportunity to participate in earning opportunity making it a win-win for everybody. We are not charging any commission and all the earnings in these business to business deals are directly passed on to the driver-partner allowing them extra earning opportunity.”

While the initiative is a fine innovation in itself, the best part of this venture is that Uber will not be charging any commission for the services and the entire amount will be credited to the cab drivers. Uber has provided training sessions to partners to maintain a healthy standard of service, while also equipping them with masks, sanitizers, and other safety gear.

Ride-hailing companies have been looking to utilize their idle resources for a while now since their services have shut down after the lockdown was imposed. Rapido, a two-wheeler alternative to Ola and Uber, has also partnered with a number of retail chains like Spencer’s Retail, Big Basket, Grofers, Big Bazaar and Nature’s Basket to provide delivery of essentials. Zomato and Swiggy have also entered similar partnerships with grocery chains and other essential item sellers.