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Post office will be ready next month, says Wells

The new “state-of-the-art” General Post Office is slated to relocate from its East Hill Street location to the Town Centre Mall by the third week of May, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet, Wells said, “The boxes are now installed completely. The other aspects of the post office [are] being closed up and we are looking for a complete move and this is the final timeline date for the post office.

“We are looking for a complete move the third week in May for all of the post office staff to be in the Town Centre Mall.”

The move was slated to happen by Christmas, but was delayed to January 2019.

In early February, Wells said the relocation would happen in mid-February.

He later said that government was aiming for “the end of February, first week in March”.

The Nassau Guardian toured the mall last month with members of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), and met a construction site that appeared nowhere near completion.

When asked yesterday if there was a turnaround at the site, Wells said, “Absolute, complete turnaround and what they saw, as I said earlier, there were aspects of the post office that could not be completed because we needed to have the boxes installed.

“When we were there, the boxes were still in boxes. We installed those boxes in a matter of two and a half days over the weekend. Over a weekend.”

He added: “In terms of the construction, we are about 99 percent complete with the builder’s work. The executive offices are done. The post office boxes are in. The warehouse is completed. The air conditioning unit is in. The [electrical] is installed. The cafeteria is up and running. The post office bank has been up and running.”

The government intends to lease 75,000 square feet of space for the “concessionary” rate of $12 per square foot or $900,000 a year.

Immigration Minister Brent Symonette and his brother are the principal owners of the mall, and will bear the $3.5 million cost of renovating the building.

The government is expected to cover the cost of furniture for the post office.

Wells said the furniture is expected “to be in at the end of April”.

Asked about the price tag for outfitting the building, Wells said, “I think the price tag overall is somewhere in the area of $130,000 for the low voltage design and the furniture is somewhere around $30,000 or so.”

The minister said the low voltage design would include the set up for telecommunications, a new key swipe entry for different areas of the building and CCTV surveillance.

Wells said in its present state the post office has seen a significant decrease in revenue.

“…In 2012, the revenue in the post office was somewhere around I’d say $5 million or $6 million, that’s how much money the post office was putting into the Consolidated Fund,” he said.

“Today, the revenue in the post office is around $2 million, so I’d tell you the reduction in the efficiency and productivity of the post office, we’re looking to increase that revenue again and to get the post office operating in the manner in which it should.”

Wells also  expressed concern with the post office being “severely understaffed”.

He said, “We’re looking as to, in the new budget period, bringing in the requisite new staff into the post office, building the executive leadership as well as the line staff of persons. So, we’re going to requisitely staff the post office as [well as] a number of departments and authorities that happen to come under the Ministry of Transport.”

In November 2017, employees of the General Post Office held a protest outside the building on East Street.

They took issue with the conditions at the post office including mold and poor ventilation, which they claimed was the result of a malfunctioning air-conditioning system.

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