Bangladesh Post Office: far away from digitalisation

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A resident from Mohammadpur Ripon Mollah sent his medical reports by Express Money Service (EMS) of GPO to Oman for proving his medical solvency to go to Oman for working there in 15th February with the conformation of arrival that document in 72 hours. But unfortunately that document has not arrived till now.

He says, “I have come here while I come to know that the cost of EMS service is much more reasonable than courier service and I have paid to 900 tk for sending this medical report to Oman to the EMS counter where it requires 866 tk. When I have complained about this to the officials here they can’t give me any solution. Now it is totally uncertain for me to go to abroad for work.”

Another victim of such harassment, Tanvir Ahsan, who is a teacher of Bangladesh Open University, came to GPO for withdraw his matured FDR account at 10.00 am. Then he collected a token from the counter and his serial number was 23. But till 1.00pm he could not take the money yet while some token numbers holder’s serial number 30, 33, 44, 48 had already found their service from this bank as they provided some extra money to Mr. Zakir who is a Computer operator in Postal savings bank at GPO.

“I don’t want to give some extra money to him (Zakir) for getting quick service so I have to wait for more than 3 hours. Not only me, many clients like me are waiting for a long time but the officials here have no headache. They have the token display in front of every counter but it does not work properly because they have to provide service after taking some money from the clients” he regrets.

Bangladesh post office once holds the tradition of our country which is one of the oldest services of our country. But in this epoch of modern technologies people are going far aloof from post office due to lack of mismanagement, irregularities and digitalization.

Serving the client is the main slogan of Bangladesh Post office (BPO). But when government raises the voice to digitalize the whole picture of this country maximum clients of post office are not satisfied with the present condition of BPO.

According to Bangladesh Post Office official there are 9886 post offices remain across the country. There are many services like postal saving bank, postal life insurance, Electronic Money Transfer System (EMTS), Postal Cash card (PCC), Western Union money transfer system, Post e centre etc.

But for the lack of man power and digitalization BPO does not meet the customers’ satisfaction. Abdul Hashem Bhuiya, a retired government officer shares his experience with this reporter, “In the decade of 90 the services provided by GPO was much better than now. I am the regular client of postal saving bank from 1989.”

“But now in this age of 75 if I have to come here I have to wait for a long time for collecting money or withdraw money when my saving account got matured. Maximum times the operator working here demand extra money for withdrawal. So today I have come here to withdraw my account forever.” Mr Hashem tells with sorrow.

Jahanara Begum, retired assistant family planning officer comes Every month to GPO for collecting her pension complains, “If we get 99% service from Bangladesh Bank but when we come here in GPO we get only 1% service.”

Along with Jahanara Begum a retired manager of Titas Gas complains, “We don’t get information as we wanted. The officials here claim that they have all modern facilities like other banks but completely they have nothing. They have no Money counting machine as other banks. In this time of digital Bangladesh they count money by their own hands.”

When contact with the Postal Saving Bank in charge of Dhaka GPO Mr. Mynur Islam about the rush and mismanagement, he tells to this reporter, “There is no mismanagement running here. We cannot control the rush and provide them expected service for lack of our man power. Beside this, the government has increased the interests of saving money here in Postal saving bank recently which is more than any other banks of Bangladesh. So people are coming more than others day here.”

“Our deposit of money has already increased in this savings bank. But the system of transaction runs here manually. So until the transaction system will be computerized fully it is hard for us to provide the clients satisfactory services.” He adds.

It is found by this reporter that in Dhaka GPO some broker (Dalal) who claimed themselves guard or letter writer or postman are active. They force the customers to pack the goods and chattels by them who come at Dhaka GPO for sending parcel to abroad to their relatives either there is registered packer man inside GPO.

One of them named Monu Mia says, “I am working here for 15 years. When I have no works I just try to manage some customers to pack their goods which they will send to abroad or other districts of the country. By this I can earn some extra money. I take 100-300 tk for packing.”

Electronic Money Transfer Service (EMTS) after inaugurating by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was initiated in 104 post offices. But when overwhelming peoples demand is increasing day by day now this service has expanded to 2385 post offices across the whole country.

According to Nayeb Delowar Hossain, Director General of Bangladesh Post Office, “Where you can see a large queue in post office you have to understand there EMTS service is provided.”

While talking to Md.Mostak Ahmed a user of the service of EMTS says, “EMTS service provided by Bangladesh Post Office is a great step which makes a place for BPO in peoples mind again after a long time. But the service provided here should be faster. They can appoint more operators in the EMTS counter. Then we can get the service and send money or receive money quickly.”

Postal Cash Card system had been inaugurated by the Prime Minister in 2011 which card minimize the risk of carrying money and the customers can collect the money from the post office counters and ATM booth. This card can be used as a Debit Card. The customers can store or deposit money here and use it in the shopping mall as plastic money.

“We have planned to provide Postal Cash Card in 606 post offices across the country. It has already launched in approximately 450 post offices. It is good news for us about Postal Cash Card that last month we can sell 7000 cash card which will be increased in future.”Mr. Delowar expects.

Another project has been formulated by Bangladesh Post Office to launch Post E-centers at each of the 8500 rural post offices of the country. This project intends to minimize the digital deviation between rural and urban people of the country by providing them modern ICT based technologies.

Mr. Delowar hossain says, “For providing this Post E-centre we have to cost about 5, 97,000 tk per post office. But it can help rural people to use internet, modem, scanner, webcam to communicate to anywhere of the world.”

Bangladesh Post Office is now executing a project named ‘Process Automation of Postal Department’ which can gather every document of Post offices through computer hardware and web based application software. However this project is ongoing very slowly.

“When we can use the computer based automated system we can easily meet the satisfaction of the customers more than now.” Mr.Delowar says to this reporter.

While visiting Savar Upazilla Post office it is found that to control the rush of the clients for EMTS, postmen have to work in the place of computer operator.

Abdul Ahad Mia, Savar Upazilla Post Master tells, “Bangladesh Post Office has inaugurated many new services for complete customer satisfaction but we have faced so many problems to control the rush of the clients for the lack of computer operator, Postmen. We need more computers to work for new services. Sometimes we have to work by the postmen to meet the clients’ fulfillment. It is seen sometimes that we cannot equal the daily transactions that’s why we have to pay the money from our own income. But the peoples do not understand this. They want service. Often we have to face annoyed of people when we cannot meet their satisfaction.”

“For making Bangladesh Post Office more digitalized government has already taken many steps to meet the complete satisfaction of the customers. But the government and the post office officials have to think about the second class or third class employee.” A postman of delivery section doesn’t want to focus his name says who works about 12 years in Dhaka GPO.

“Postmen working here is not enough to work with plenty of work. Sometimes we have to work in other’s bit (area). People think that post offices have no work but we know that although the amount of personal letter is decreasing than past but the business related letters or official letters are increasing day by day. So we have to work hardly than past.” He says.

“If government want to run Post offices as wanted they have to employ more employees which is closed from 2005. They can again run the candidate system for which about 5500 candidates remain idly in their home. We need more employees in 9 categories like Postman, Packer, Mail Carrier, Runner, Out guard, Night guard etc. We have only 72 postmen for 88 bit.”

Another postman named Mafijul Islam khan who works in bit no-9 for 11 years says, “We have to work sometimes in government holiday. But according to our hard work we don’t get adequate money. We get about 20-35 tk for working on holiday.”

Post Master General of Dhaka Metropolitan circle P.C Shaha told The Independent, “We have taken initiatives to make rural people aware about our newly launched services. It will take some times but we will expand our services to every post office as early as possible. At present some problems are remaining. We need to computerize our traditional working system for which we have already started working and providing our employee training. But we need some man power to ensure the customers satisfactions. Another important shortage remains here the transport facilities. We provide our services by limited transport facilities. As the government’s first practical implementation of digitalization in our sector by launching EMTS, so we believe we will be provided more budgets and our need to make the Bangladesh Post Office fully digitalized by the government.”

Without some peoples of Dhaka City nobody knows about the postal museum situated at the third floor of Dhaka GPO which stands on 2160 square feet. It includes two rooms. The first room is furnished with the collection of stamps of Bangladesh and the Universal Postal Union related countries. The other room holds the tradition of antique postal department. But unfortunately there is no information about museum in BPO website.

Md. Alamgir Hossain Sarker, supervisor of Postal museum says, “This museum can be a great place for anyone to know about the traditional post service of post office, some important information about the country and everyone can know about the beauty, nature, and tradition of 191 countries of Universal Postal Union. People can collect the expected stamps from the Philatelic Bureau situated here in Dhaka GPO.”

While contact with FA Nesar Uddin Ahmed, Manager of Philatelic Bureau tells to this reporter, “Stamps is one kind of identification of a country. Selling stamps is the main source of income in neighboring country Bhutan. Stamps can bear the prestigious picture of a country across the country. In neighboring countries every year 10-12 stamps are printed whereas in our country in this year only one stamp has printed for the 60 years of International Mother Language day. Here you can buy a stamp only in 10-70 tk.”

Foisal Mahmud, a student of Dhaka University says, “In this modern age we can easily contact with anyone by mobile phone or mailing through the internet. So if the Post office can be furnished with the modern technology based equipments to meet the customers’ satisfactions, people will again come back to the post office.”

He further adds, “We do not find any useful and updated information on PO website. As we know that post office is the only way to communicate with the other countries of the world. But if the website does not give the information as wanted or updated time to time then people or young generation will never become aware about post office.”

When asking P.C Shaha regarding this matter he answered, “We have network in 195 countries except Israel. We try our best to update our website. Further if we find any trouble we will take necessary steps.”

Yeasmin Akhter, a college teacher thinks, “As Bangladesh Post Office has its branches across the whole country so it should make certain the rural branches digitalized first. And then transparency of the employee working here is needed as if customers or clients can get total satisfaction by their service.”

“In my view the prosperity of Bangladesh Post Office are growing up day by day. It is the oldest and traditional department of Bangladesh. If the government have to do something new for our country government have to meet us. For example, Election Commission has to take our help for launching Voter I.D across the country. We are completely committed for digitalized Bangladesh Post office for meet the complete satisfaction of our clients. I assure after one year BPO will regain the people’s faith again.” Nayeb delowar Hossain concludes.

This article is published in ‘Weekend Independent’ magazine of ‘The Independent‘ newspaper of Bangladesh.

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