JIS News

As the rush of the Yuletide season gains momentum, the postal service has braced itself to handle the expected influx of mail and parcels. In an interview with JIS News, Acting Postmaster General of the Postal Corporation of Jamaica, Michael Gentles informed that on an annual basis, the Corporation handled some 73 million pieces, with most of these generally occurring in late November, December and early January.
Therefore, the Corporation has placed local representatives in New York and Miami, under the auspices of the Caribbean Postal Union, to assist in the dispatch and sorting of mail destined for the Caribbean. A large percentage of the country’s mail originates in these two areas of the United States.
“These representatives are placed there from the beginning of December until just about the last working day before Christmas, to facilitate the movement of mail, both inbound and outbound but especially the latter, to the Caribbean and Jamaica, so that will help to monitor the flow of mail from the US,” he said.
Mr. Gentles further informed that in the past, mail destined for countries in the Caribbean had been delayed as airlines were unable to convey these items on a timely basis because of a greater volume of luggage as well as an increase in the number of persons travelling to the region during this period. However, he said it was the job of these postal representatives to ensure that pieces of mail bound for the Caribbean are accepted by the airlines and arrive at their destinations in a reasonable time.
During this period, temporary workers are hired and assigned to the Central Sorting Office, headquarters of the Postal Corporation, as well as other offices, to assist with the increased volume of mail to be sorted and delivered.
Meanwhile, the problem of sifting through and eliminating tainted mail does not make it easier for the postal workers to carry out their duties speedily during this busy period. “We have had an increase in that problem. With the tightening of security systems at the airports and seaports we are seeing where people are now trying to use the postal service to get drugs out of the country. However, we have been working very, very closely with the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the airlines to combat this threat. We have been very successful in dealing with that problem, because we have employed a very strict security regime to handle all the mail that is outbound,” he said.
Mr. Gentles said mail or parcels containing drugs represented a small percentage of the total volume handled. However, he stressed that the practice, while miniscule, placed the country at risk in terms of the damage to the island’s postal service.
“We handle them, regardless of the number. We see each one as a very serious threat to our country’s good name and the postal service and the efforts we are making to improve the service. Our goal is to eliminate this problem. We have minimized it so far and we hope to eliminate it,” he said.
On the question of what members of the public or their relatives overseas can do to facilitate a smoother flow of parcels and mail through the system, Mr. Gentles had a few tips.
“Please mail your items as early as possible, don’t wait for the last minute. That will help us to get your package or letter to its destination on time; also people who are sending packages, make sure you package your items properly.we don’t want them to be damaged in transit,” he said.
The public is also being asked not to mail items that are prohibited, such as cigarette lighters, aerosol and other cans containing pressurized items like spray paints or oxygen, dangerous articles, including explosives, inflammable or harmful substances. “If you are sending valuables, these must be sent via registered mail,” the Acting Post Master General advised.
The rapid growth of the telecommunications sector, coupled with the massive expansion of the information superhighway, has transformed the way people communicate with each other globally. In particular, it has revolutionalized the traditional modes of communicating through writing letters and sending telegrams.
Competition in the telecommunications sector has forced telephone rates to more affordable levels and as such a greater percentage of Jamaicans are now dialing abroad to speak with relatives and friends on a regular basis.
Those who have access to the Internet can communicate orally with persons elsewhere or exchange email messages with their counterparts in any country across the globe.
A proliferation of courier services has not made it any easier for the traditional mail service to remain relevant. While these developments have had a significant impact on the postal service internationally, and in Jamaica in particular, the traditional service offered by the Postal Corporation of Jamaica is far from being redundant.
The postal service handles on average, between five to six million pieces of mail on a monthly basis. This increases by 15 to 20 per cent during the period December to January.