Boost for postal services through advanced technology - Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga
The state postal sector which is the only postal service provider
from luxury bungalows to slums will soon adopt advanced technology to
provide a satisfactory and enhanced service to its customers, Postal
Services Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga told the Sunday Observer during an
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Do you have an idea to infuse modern technology to the
A:Infusing modern technologies to the postal sector is crucial
to overcome challenges. For the past five years our postal sector is
facing huge challenges due to the introduction of modern technologies in
the communication sector. If modern technology was not used the entire
postal network would go to a museum, In every country the communication
sector has become more competitive with the emergence of modern
We have inaugurated the networking of post offices. Now 634 main post
offices are being networked with the support of the University of
Moratuwa. The networking project can be completed within two or three
months. The 3,410 sub post offices are to be networked in two years.
After the completion of networking the administration activities of all
post offices throughout the country could be brought under one umbrella.
The Government has allocated sufficient funds for this project. We
will be introducing 'track and trace' system for the first time in Sri
Lanka. E-mail and billing facilities will also be offered by post
offices countrywide on the completion of networking. We are planning to
provide 21 kinds of services to customers in the future.
Q: What are the projects being implemented in the North and
the East to uplift the postal sector devastated by three decades old
A: As the Minister responsible for the postal sector I have
taken essential steps to uplift and to increase the efficiency of the
postal sector in the North and the East.
New post offices are being constructed in the North and the East
under the Uthuru Wasanthaya and Neganahira Navodhaya Northern and
Eastern Development drives.
The newly constructed Kalkudah, Mandur, Periyaporativu,
Addalachchena, Oluvil, Pulmudai and Kurunchakerny post offices were
commissioned last year. The construction work of Meeravoddai and
Pottuvil post offices has now been completed and the construction work
of Palamunai and Marudamune post offices is progressing.
We have sent push bicycles and vans to the North to augment the
postal services. We have renovated quite a large number of post offices
which were damaged during the conflict period.
After the restoration of peace in the North and the East after nearly
30 years the people of those regions are returning to their normal
lives. But even during the conflict period the postal services operated
in conflict areas. Even when the Forces reached the final location of
battle postal services was functioning there.
Only the postal sector was linked the North and the East with other
parts of the country during this period. The postal sector rendered its
service to the public without race, caste and religious discrimination.
Q: Is the delivery service of the Postal Department in the
liberated areas in the North and the East functioning smoothly?
A: Moves are underway to dispatch four vans to the North to
expedite the delivery service to the North from Colombo. With the
resumption of train services to Batticaloa the delivery services of the
Postal Department to Batticaloa have become much easier.
Q: Could you please explain of Government's bicycle
distributing program to postal sector employees?
A: No bicycles were distributed to the postal employees for the past
10 years. The treasury has allocated Rs. 15 million to distribute new
bicycles among postal employees. Last year we distributed 4,000 bicycles
among the postal employees in Moneragala (parallel to the Deyata Kirula
program), Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Hambantota Districts.
When I assumed duties as the Postal and Telecommunication Minister it
was reported that in certain areas the delivery services were taking
place in a poor manner. The identified reason was the lack of bicycles.
Q: Now there are agency post offices everywhere. Does it
affect the smooth functioning of state postal services ?
A: The emergence of agency post offices will never affect the
State postal services as both are moving in parallel. We are planning to
draft a framework to promote the efficiency of agency post offices.
Discussions were being conducted with relevant authorities in this
The Postal Department is the only authority to grant permission to
agency post offices. These agency post offices are being administrated
by the Postal Department.
The emergence of agency post offices depends on the availability of
main or sub post offices in proximity. There should be a 500 metre
distance between sub post offices and 100 metres between agency post
Now we are in the process of granting permission to agency post
offices in places where neither main post offices nor sub post offices
Permission is granted only to the those who satisfy the requirements
of the Postal Department.
Q: What are the steps taken by you as the subject Minister to
increase the efficiency of the postal service?
A: Earlier it took six to seven days to deliver letters in distant
areas. Moves are under way to deliver letters and parcels in two days in
Colombo area and in three days out of Colombo. Steps have been taken to
deliver letters and parcels within four days to distant regions.
There is an international regulation that the letter or parcel should
be delivered to the addresses within five days of (domestic) posting.
Only then we can conform to international standards. Already Sri Lanka
has achieved this standard.
Due to our efficient services Sri Lanka won a bronze medal at the
World Postal Union.
The Postal Department is planning to deliver letters and parcels the
same evening if posted before 9.00 a.m.
Q: Is the Postal Department recording losses? If it is, what
are the reasons ?
A: We are not experiencing huge losses. We intend to run this
service without becoming a burden to the Government. We are moving
towards that goal step by step.
We are not experiencing losses but we have an expenditure surplus.
There should be 23,000 employees to run the postal service but there are
less than 17,000 employees.
These employees have to do the service of 23,000 persons. There is a
shortage of 7,000 employees. When we use those people to cover the
additional work they have to be paid overtime. Due to this situation the
expenditure of the Department has gone up. Our aim is to bring down the
expenditure within a year period and to convert the Postal Department
into a body operating without any fund allocation by the Government.