I read with a wry smile in your esteemed newspaper that the government is moving forward to establish physical addresses for all properties in the Virgin Islands, one of the purposes of which is so that mail can be delivered to each such address. Hmmmm. We are talking here about a government agency which even before Hurricane Irma was unable to deliver mail to post boxes any faster than was achieved 100 years earlier by the mail packet ships like the RMS Rhone. I recall writing nearly three years ago to your newspaper about a 45-day delivery time for an urgent delivery letter from the United Kingdom and about delays up to 10 days in the delivery of my weekly subscription of The BVI Beacon.
Now here we are ten months after Hurricane Irma and the mail is not even delivered to our post boxes. Instead we have the dubious pleasure of having to drive to a location with no parking facilities and stand in a long line in a hot building where we are required to produce identification in order to collect our mail. Since I am the executor of a deceased box holder I was told that I needed to produce his death certificate and the grant of probate as well as personal identification before I could collect the mail.
If you cannot come yourself because you are off island for any reason, an extra level of bureaucracy kicks in requiring even more documentation to be produced, which is sometimes not accepted as sufficient. What an incredible inconvenience to the public.
‘A total disgrace’
The mail I do receive is still as haphazard as it was before Irma. I receive comparatively recent letters with others that are months old. I still have not received most of the Christmas cards that people say they have sent me. To add insult to injury, the Post Office now has the nerve to say that if you do not collect your mail in a timely fashion it will be returned or destroyed.
I still occasionally draft legal documents in which there is invariably a provision for the service of notices by one party on another. I now delete any reference to service by post because there can be no assurance that such notice will arrive in a timely fashion, or at all.
This letter is by no means meant as a criticism of the small number of overworked staff at the Post Office who do their best in dreadful working conditions to find mail for the general public from a huge pile of boxes located somewhere in the back office. It is not the staff who are to blame for the existing shambles: It is the system and the general lack of interest in providing a public service that is even remotely adequate, which is a total disgrace.
Still no transport?
I was told at one time that the mail cannot now be delivered to post boxes because the Post Office has no transport. Surely that cannot still be the reason for the present shambolic situation. As far as I know, most of the post boxes are still standing, or if not, they can easily be repaired or replaced. The latest news is that the Post Office is closed because of a flood!
If the government seriously believes that the Post Office as presently constituted will be able to deliver mail to physical addresses as is done in most places that take their postal services seriously, then I strongly suggest that they think again.