For government of any nation, delivering the mail is a prime duty, right up there with maintaining domestic public order and protecting national borders. But its function marked by tedium, requiring thousands of routine transactions that must be completed every day, by hand or computer, without glamour or recognition.
Unfortunately, the psyche of Bahamian politicians and senior civil servants seems infected with an allergy against even thinking about such nit-picky work, let alone performing it. Through one administration after another, these mandarins ignored the sweating minions struggling to sort the daily flow of letters and packages, using antiquated equipment and archaic systems, with inoperable air-conditioning, unhealthy paint-peeling walls.
It’s hardly surprising that our postal system has nearly ground to a halt. My personal experience of more than a mouth to receive a letter from a New York bank is just one minor irritant compared with more serious problems faced every day by local businesses receiving late payments and sometimes finding that mailings are lost forever.
Even in this digital era, there is an irreducible minimum of essential hard copy deliveries. Internationally, Bahamians cope by using expensive couriers or opening convenience boxes in Florida. Domestically, it’s inconceivable that any cheque of crucial document is entrusted to the Post Office. Hand delivery by self or professional messenger has become the rule. Fewer stamps are sold and postal revenue sinks even lower.
All the flowery rhetoric from Government ministries and the Chamber of Commerce about “making it easier to do business in The Bahamas” is nothing but a sick joke until we solve the basic task of delivering mail.
Government sits on its hands. I have heard nothing further about demolishing the barely habitable Central PO Building. Phil’s Supermarket on Gladstone Road, the alleged site of the new headquarters, sits peaceful and undisturbed.
The Prime Minister should acknowledge this crisis by declaring a State of Emergency and, like NEMA with hurricane damage, draft several hundred workers, even if half-trained, to clear up the backlog accumulated on East Street and the branch offices - only a first step, but essentially a symbolic one.
Originally published at The Tribune and posted here with the authors kind permission.
Mr. Coulson has had a long career in law, investment banking and private banking in New York, London, and Nassau, and now serves as director of several financial concerns and as a corporate financial consultant. He has recently released his autobiography, A Corkscrew Life: Adventures of a Travelling Financier.