Nepal’s postal system is already operating a Postal Savings Bank, cheque management, EMS courier service, and tracking. But by and large, work at the post office these days is just delivering government paperwork
“The reputation and dependability of the post office is declining. The culture of sending personal letters has stopped completely but no one has used our savings account either,” says Dilkaji Shakya, head of the District Post Office in Lalitpur.
Shakya admits that the postal service is losing its relevance because private companies provide better services that have a larger reach. For instance, the EMS courier service these days is available only in Qatar, Malaysia, Dubai, and India, while private companies have access to almost all countries in the world.
Despite being under-equipped and under-funded the post office, Shakya hopes that the government will invest more in the service so it can adapt to changing times. At present it still plays a vital role in delivering case documents from the Supreme Court, original bank files.
Yagya Raj Bhatt, director of the Postal Services Department in Kathmandu, says that new resources have been allocated in this year’s budget to upgrade the postal service. It could do with some improvement – more than two years after Nepali Times mailed a registered letter from the GPO in Sundhara to an address 15-minute walk away, it still has not arrived.
“We will now develop new structures and streamline our work, and hopefully attract people back to the postal service,” says Bhatta. “Since 1 September we are also delivering passports from the foreign ministry directly to people’s homes all over the country so they do not have to come to Kathmandu to collect them.”
The postal service is being expanded to deliver parcels directly to people at home, and under an internal review, the Department is planning to introduce an e-commerce service.
Bhatta admits: “There is no alternative to reinventing the postal service with modern facilities if it wants to stay in business.”