By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
NEARLY one week after Acting Post Master General Jennifer Johnson suggested the General Post Office would open in its new Town Centre Mall location this week, Transport Minister Renward Wells has now pointed to “next week” for the much-anticipated opening.
Addressing the delayed transition of postal operations from the former East Hill Street location to the new Town Centre Mall site outside of Cabinet yesterday, Mr Wells said the government was still on track for a “major opening” next week, but needed to determine an official day.
He told reporters officials were presently going through operations at the new facility to ensure everything is in order.
He said his team was also working to test general operations at the new facility to ensure all services and procedures could be effectively carried out in the space allocated.
Mr Wells said once these things were done, officials will move on to the official opening of the new facility.
“The Post Office is on track for next week. We are looking to have a major opening of the [General] Post Office, we are going to be getting back to you with the date so that the media and all persons concerned can be there. But we are on track for the post office to open next week,” he said.
Mr Wells continued: “Right now, we are going through the operations of the post office; the phones are installed, the furniture is in, the building is completed, the Ministry of Works is going through its punch list, looking at tiles, looking at defects in the infrastructure itself and asking the landlord to make good these defects.
“We are also looking at the operations of the post office in the space with folks sorting mail and how it all is going to work out.
“So we are trying to work out all of the kinks in the operation of the post office before we officially go down there and cut the ribbon,” he stated.
Mrs Johnson last week confirmed postal services were being moved to the new location as early as May 2, referring to various machinery and a large percentage of employees.
At the time, she said the move could have been completed by end of last week.
However, she did note the move of some systems still needed to be facilitated.
Mrs Johnson said: “We haven’t shut down our systems here [at East Hill Street] as yet as there are some things that we do internationally, and we still need some folks here. We still have to maintain some things behind the scenes.
“We have persons here still, but as soon as all of our IT systems, our internet and other connections are up and running at our new location then we can completely shut down. We have a total of 90 persons stationed at the General Post Office. We may now have about 20 here currently just to maintain the flow of operations on this end while the majority of our staff are trying to get moved in or set up their stations.”
Mrs Johnson said postal services could still be accessed at the various sub-offices.
“The savings bank services are still being offered at the Shirley Street Post Office,” she added. “Persons can still clear their boxes until they are in receipt of new keys. They can send out mail through the sub-stations. By next week we expect to be operational at the Town Centre Mall. The move is absolutely welcome. It’s an understatement to say that we are happy to move.”
Although the Post Office Bank and the cafeteria were finished before Christmas, earlier this year Mr Wells said he did not want a piecemeal move, adding several factors contributed to the general delay of the relocation.
In an interview in April, he told reporters that it all came down to different aspects of the facility’s drawings needing to be redone, issues with mailboxes and problems with some parts of the building’s power supply for equipment like CCTV.
Last October, an initial deadline of December 15, 2018 was set for the move.
However, by November the government said the relocation was set for between Christmas and the end of 2018. But when December came, that deadline was extended to January 1 and when that date had passed, Mr Wells said the new relocation date would be moved to the middle of February.
Overall, issues at the run down East Hill Street location have impacted the revenue generation capability of the General Post Office, now reducing its contribution to the consolidated fund to around $2m from about $6m in 2012, Mr Wells has said.