World Post Day: Snail mail celebrates its 139th anniversary

The traditional value of the ‘post’ lives on even if the service is in decline


Our Correspondent October 09, 2012

KARACHI: Before the internet and mobile phones, there was the postal service. Writing or posting a letter and waiting for the post to arrive were something to look forward to. Even today the postal service is active but not as popular as before, yet celebrating World Postal Day is a testament to how special and traditional ‘snail’ mail is.

The Pakistan Post Office employees marked this occasion by hoisting the Universal Postal Union flag at the postal training centre in Karachi on Tuesday. The union has 191 member countries around the world and was established in 1874.

“Ours is an era of new information and communication technology. The postal service, however, is not standing idly, but is an integral part of the increasingly digital world. The postal community is constantly changing and adapting in the face of a mercurial market,” said a statement from the director-general of the union, Edouard Dayan.

At the event, after reading out the director-general’s statement, the principal of the training centre, Manzoor Ahmed Khan, said that the role of the union and Pakistan Post had had an impact on the economical growth of the country and it catered to the postal requirements of the people.

The assistant postmaster general, Muhammad Saeed, told The Express Tribune that documents were still being sent through the postal service. They had contracts with banks for their mail and Pakistan Post was earning millions of rupees from these contracts.

Though the tradition may be celebrated every year, the service as a whole has been in decline. “On World Post Day, special postal tickets were issued by Pakistan Post to mark the day, but the condition of the service has gone from bad to worse,” said a trade unionist and the former deputy chief postmaster, Syed Hameed Ahmed.

He added that this was because of corruption and the lack of interest shown by employees and because of this, the institution is losing millions of rupees.

Ahmed said that Pakistan has 12,339 post offices and 65 general post offices, with more than 40,000 people directly associated with them. But, with private courier companies opening at every corner and taking the business of Pakistan Post, the competition gets tougher.

Into the future

“To improve our performance, we have been shifting towards electronic correspondence,” said Saeed. An electronic money system has started, allowing people to send money to their loved ones at the touch of a button and the next step will be the computerization of utility bills and pension payments.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2012.

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