Post stays

by Kimberley Cummins

Snail mail is not going anywhere, anytime soon, neither are the island’s 16 post offices.

Post Master General Joel Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY that while conventional mail was on a decline, the island’s post offices would remain open as this means of communication was still very relevant.

“The post will still remain relevant because everybody does not have computers or the technology and the post has to cater for the whole gamut of society. Where those who have resources would say they want their cell phones, they are those who might not have a cell phone and would want to write a letter and we have to provide that service.

“They are persons who would still prefer a hard copy; they would still prefer to receive their mail through the post and they have to be given that option. A society changes and transitions as we move to a younger generation but you cannot have a system where you do not take care of the older folks who might want to remain with physical mail until such time that does not exist — if that is possible,” he said.

Notwithstanding, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported on March 21, 2011, that the Royal Mail announced it would cut more than 1,700 jobs and close two mail centres, which added to the 65,000 positions cuts since 2002. Later, on July 26, 2011, CBS News reported that the “money-strapped” United States Postal Service was considering closing 3,653 post office buildings since 80 per cent of all post offices were not turning a profit.

Brathwaite said there was no intention to close any of their 16 offices because while there was a significant decline in mail, the number of post offices did not have a direct correlation to the volume mail.

He explained that post offices were stationed in areas to make the services easily accessible to the public. Of the 16 offices, three were not manned by postmen or letter carriers but rather provided counter services — where people can pay their bills, cash cheques and so on.

The biggest competition impacting on the services offered by the BPS was technology and new forms of communication, Brathwaite said. Since there has been a significant decline in the amount of social mail received in the past five years, the majority of mail which now passed through the office was of the business type. However, that too has been struck by competition, he noted.

“Years ago in the 1950s and ’60s, a lot of Barbadians lived in England and they would send remittances to family here and so forth. That has changed over the years, and while they might still send remittances they don’t have to do it through the mail. They can use alternatives which might be quicker.

“What you find is that you have a younger population and the younger population is gravitating towards technology. I don’t think they come up in an era where they do a lot of writing so they use the technology: text, phones and so forth.

“As a result if you say you have a transition where the older folks are moving on, the younger generation would take over. The younger generation is going toward the technology as a result that population of people which you would expect to continue writing they are no longer doing that — they are using technology.”

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