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22.11.2005 Feature Article

Our Postal System- Which Way Forward?

Our Postal System- Which Way Forward?
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Living outside Ghana in Europe, I just can't stop noticing little things and making comparisons with my own country. Invariably what pertains in our country is a disaster and what I see here is a perfect model (in my eyes). This makes me green with envy. I last wrote about the filth in Accra streets. My latest observation is our postal system. I'm sure you've already started shaking your head in sadness. The postal system in the West The postal system here in the UK is much maligned by the British public. But to me it is admirable compared to Ghana Post. Post anything first class and the recipient gets it next day. The first class postage is a very affordable 30p (depending on the weight of course). If your course mate lives on the other side of London and you have to give him or her some document, you don't have to wait till your next meeting five days later. Just stick it in the post and it's done. Even if you're coming from Ghana and someone gives you a package to give to a relative here in the UK or anywhere in Europe, you don't have to see the person face-to-face to deliver, just verify name and address on the phone and post it and forget about it.

The letter boxes are still operational. If you want to post a card or letter to your friends, employees, colleagues etc, you don't have to travel to a central post office and cue. You just drop it in any of the ubiquitous letter boxes and it's done.

There is also front door delivery. Need a new mobile phone? You see an advert in the papers, pick up your phone or use a public phone, give your details and next day when you arrive from work, college or university, your phone is parked neatly within your doorstep waiting for you. If you don't leave home early, you may even receive it before departure that day.

The effective organisation of the postal system allows mail order businesses to function. The internet has expanded this even more.

To anyone living in the developed world, all this talk is an everyday occurrence quite unworthy of report. But this is just to serve as a background to the crucial question; can you imagine picking up the 'Daily Graphic' in Accra, Kumasi or Tuobodom, see an advert for an 'Obrafuor' CD, or Ghana film DVD, fill out a coupon, put it in a letter box on your own street and next day a post man delivers it at your door? Or see an advert for an 'Areeva' phone on click on 'order' fill out your details and receive it next day at 55 Adwenpa Street, Tuobodom. Sadly, this is a pipedream, but it can easily become reality.

What is the current situation with our postal system? Why do we have this situation? What is the management of Ghana Post doing about this? Does the management of Ghana Post have a vision for the organisation they are responsible for? What is the current situation with our postal system? Our postal system is a shambles. The Ghana Post employees as far as can be observed are just a bunch of mail thieves. As Christmas approaches, I can just imagine the wicked grins on their faces widening as they look forward to the rich pickings coming in from long suffering Ghanaians abroad. What a people! In my experience any letter posted to Ghana takes an unacceptably long time to reach its destination, if ever. If it is larger than a normal 110 x 220 mm flat envelope, you can be sure it will be tampered with. How disgraceful! A letter posted from Ghana to Europe takes 5 days. Probably takes 4 days to arrive in Europe from Ghana and one day for its final journey. A letter posted from Europe to Ghana takes 5 to 14 days to reach its destination, if at all, depending on how promising it looks. I was stupid enough to post an old, out-of-date phone to Ghana in May. The phone is still to arrive in Ghana. Obviously Ghana post employees have no mercy on mobile phones no matter the age or style. I invite all readers to also post their experiences with postage to and from Ghana.

What is the management of Ghana Post doing about this problem?

About 10 years ago there was a news item on GTV saying that security cameras had been installed at the post office at circle to check this problem. Even then, I had so much hope and trust in my fellow Ghanaian that I was horrified to think any postage worker would engage in such a deed. Since then matters have got considerably worse. Does Ghana Post management seriously think they deserve to continue in office after presiding over such a national disgrace?

How can we solve the problem? Improving Ghana post can't be that difficult. During colonial times, our mail service was even more reliable than it is today. Look at the disaster we have created. The solution even doesn't require much thinking. Just reinstate the management principles, objectives, aims, schedules and rules that were in place during the fifties and sixties and add a few modern ones copied wholesale from the west. The UK is always our first model. Don't worry; there is nothing wrong with copying things that work. You save yourself a lot of time, money and effort which can be used to break new frontiers later. The booming Asian economies have been notorious for blind copying for years, look how well it's served them.

Ghana Post management, if you don't have any objectives let me give you a few free ones for 2006;

• Reduce theft from 90% to 20%

• Ensure that mail is delivered next day. Also have first and second class postage. This 'express' matter is ridiculous

• Start and operate a reliable package delivery system

• Resurrect existing letter boxes and create more to cover all the bigger cities

You can reduce stealing by improving security using closed circuit television and checks and summarily dismissing all staff caught stealing with no regard for pleas for mercy. This you can only do if you, the management, are not yourselves engaged in the racket.

You can ensure prompt delivery by running 24 hours with 3 eight-hour shifts. This will solve some of the unemployment in the country. Finance this by charging realistic rates. If your service improves and you develop a reputation for reliability the public will be only too willing to pay a little more for services.

Please, let's try and improve out services in our own country. There is greater reward in providing a great service than simply enriching ourselves dishonestly. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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