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Don’t shoot the messenger

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4 mins read

One wonders if the way the postal service is run, whether it is intentionally being driven into the ground to sell it off to the lowest bidder as rumours wildly suggest.

There is nothing more anachronistic in Cyprus than the postal service, where the state of mind throughout the chain of command is reminiscent of the early colonial days – to centralise everything and keep it all under control.

Ironically, this is probably the only state-owned service where, in the face of general negativity in other sectors, postal staff had been in favour of privatisation, as they realised that they would be able to offer better services and ensure their viability, hence jobs.

Since then, remaining without a strategy, politicians and technocrats decided to keep it afloat as-is, not having given the service a direction.

Knee-jerk actions, such as introducing some over-the-counter government services simply added to more people-traffic at the major post offices.

Money transfers helped rake in some more cash while deploying electric bikes will only benefit cost-containment and helps to reduce the carbon footprint.

It is inconceivable that incoming post needs to get from Larnaca airport to the central sorting station in two or three days, and a few days more to reach the district distribution centre.

After which, it is up to the whims of the postman (as there are no post-women) to scooter around your neighbourhood with a package you had been expecting a fortnight earlier while sitting out the shift at the local café.

On the other hand, outgoing mail usually leaves Cyprus within 24 hours, according to the diligent tracking system employed by the Datapost service, admittedly one of the most efficient and revenue earning arms of the Cyprus Post, competing with the likes of FedEx, DHL and UPS.

The postal service needs to have a courageous politician to give it the go-ahead for the various restructuring plans that have been designed but never, or partially implemented.

The US Postal Service has gone a step further with delivery schemes, scanning registered mail before its delivery to your street address, improving efficiencies and cutting down on returns due to “recipient not found”.

Even President Trump commented on the “too cheap” services that the USPS provides for mail orders, suggesting that Amazon is taking advantage and the postal service should charge more.

The Royal Mail, that abandoned its monopoly after four centuries, is a public company, where staff have a significant chunk of the shares, equally giving them a share of the burden.

Other ‘national’ postal services, some taken over by international groups, have resorted to providing regional hub services.

In effect, the business model is quite simple – to compete with the rival courier companies on an equal footing.

But to do that, the Postal Service must be given the liberty to do what is right for them and Cyprus, considering there is a loss-making rural obligation that is subsidised to keep some communities alive.

Otherwise, if nothing is done, perhaps Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri’s comments could be apt in the case of Cyprus when he appeared to have upset the Italian postal service by saying if he wanted to avoid pressure he “would’ve taken a job at the post office”.

Our postal service deserves better.