Saturday, 9 May 2020

"Posts key service provider across globe during Covid".

Posts key service provider across globe during Covid

The Pioneer, Bhubaneswar Edition , Saturday, 09 May 2020 | BRUHASPATI SAMAL


As the spread of Covid-19 has prompted more than 200 countries of the world to seal the international borders, cancel the civil airlines, road transports, rails etc and prefer lockdown / shutdown to fight with the deadly novel corona virus, more evidently now than ever, the postal network is found as the only critical infrastructure with more than 650,000 post offices and 5.3 million staffs across the globe reaching populations in even the remotest areas as an essential service provider.
During this global crisis of corona pandemic, the dedicated workforce of the posts are increasingly being recognised and acknowledged worldwide due to their physical reach, the trust and confidence they generally hold with the public and their knowledge of the people and the local communities.
In addition to their own traditional mail and financial services, many posts, including India Post, have already assumed additional responsibilities, introducing new services, or expanding existing ones to lend a helping hand to those in need during this world pandemic.
The Ireland Post shifts to providing welfare payments every 2 weeks (instead of weekly) to reduce the need for customers to leave their home. It has implemented a new "checking-in" service to regularly check on older and vulnerable people and to request for medicines through postal delivery staff. In addition, it is delivering children's activity books containing drawing, writing and mindfulness exercises from leading Irish children's authors and illustrators which supports families confined to their homes in keeping their children occupied and stimulated.
The Tunisian Post is limiting the collection of pensions by seniors of 75-79, and 80+ to specific dates in order to avoid too many customers in post offices on one day. The Pakistan Post delivers pensions for retirees to their doorstep. This reduces exposure and is convenient when banks and transport are closed. The Egypt Post has increased their ATM machine withdrawal limit to LE10,000 to prevent overcrowding in post offices and to encourage people to use ATMs more. The Royal Mail has allowed a trusted friend or volunteer to withdraw cash at any post office using a single-use voucher. This allows vulnerable people who are self-isolating to maintain access to cash without having to hand over a debit card and PIN to somebody else.  The Poste Italiane has enabled holders of BancoPosta accounts, savings accounts or Postepay Evolution to request the pension credit for free. The PHLPost is delivering relief and medical supplies to medical personnel and communities. The Bangladesh Post Office is delivering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Corona Virus testing kits and awareness leaflets free of charge. The Emirates Post Group delivers mail as well as small parcels (sanitized) to the doorstep of seniors at no additional cost and thus reduces exposure for this vulnerable group. The Australia Post has introduced a home delivery service for medication and medical supplies helping to protect vulnerable members of the community. The Czech Post has confirmed to support the Government by using its infrastructure to deliver food and other vital supplies reducing exposure for vulnerable people.
Similarly, the Posta Kenya is offering at-cost last mile delivery or collection from post offices for essential products (food, hygiene etc.). This enables people to remain in their homes, and supports the broader Kenyan response to the pandemic. The La Poste (France) delivers home-school materials to students who cannot access them online. 
And last, but not the least, the India Post, the largest postal network of the world, has shown exemplary performances in respect of mail, financial and social services. Working till midnight daily, it delivers hope and essential items to far-flung areas.
The Department of Posts has become a lifesaver ensuring supplies of essential items including medicines, Covid-19 testing kits, masks, sanitizers, PPEs and medical equipment, including ventilators and defibrillators, to all corners of the country. The department has also been delivering cash at doorsteps specially of the old, divyangs, pensioners through AePS. The red motor van of India Post has now been a beacon of hope for the homeless and the needy in slums, migrant labourers and daily wage earners.
During the lockdown period, it has carried out over 23 lakhs AePS transactions  valued at Rs 452 crore, 74.6 lakh DBT payment valued at Rs 700 crore, 2.3 crore POSB transactions worth Rs 33,000 crore and 1 crore IPPB transactions worth Rs 2,600 crore. During the period, 42.5 lakh mails have been delivered and 31.05 lakh Money Orders worth Rs 355 crore have been paid at the doorstep of the customers.
(The writer is Chairman, National Federation of Postal Employees, Odisha State Coordination Committee, Bhubaneswar, aipeugroupcodisha@gmail.com, Mobile: 9437022669)


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