Massive backlog at Post Office

Thirty-eight million.  

That’s how many unsent items of post the South African Post Office (Sapo) reportedly has to clear following the recent strike there.

Sapo has committed to clearing the massive backlog within the next three weeks. The six-week-long strike by Post Office workers over a salary dispute, coupled with the recall of some of the Post Office’s vehicle fleet by a service provider, helped create the huge backlog which has left the public fuming.

The Witness has been inundated by calls from members of the public who have not received bills and parcels for weeks.

Sapo had already raised the ire of the public this year because of system “glitches” which caused hundreds of Sassa grant beneficiaries to be left without payments for last month.

The post office will from next month completely take over distributing Sassa grants, but has already issued new Sassa cards.

Post Office workers downed tools in protest over salary negotiations and working hours. This issue was finally resolved late last month, and workers were granted a 6,5% increase, backdated to April 1.

Avis Fleet could not on Monday confirm the number of vehicles it recalled from Sapo over contract issues, but CEO Albert Geldenhuys told The Witness most of the recalled vehicles were from KwaZulu-Natal. He confirmed, however, that Avis Fleet was finalising a new contract with Sapo.

Sapo said in a statement that KZN and Gauteng were particularly affected by the backlog because of processing hubs that are larger than other provinces. Sapo said the backlog of international parcels will take longer than the three-week turnaround time it has committed to.

Members of the public told The Witness that they were concerned about not receiving their bills to make timeous payments.

One Wembley resident said: “I have already applied to have my accounts sent via e-mail, but what if some don’t come in time? I could fall in[to] arrears.”

Another resident said: “We have not received anything for some weeks now. And I have been trying to get answers from my local Post Office branch but I’ve been getting no joy.”

DA shadow minister of telecommunications and postal services, Cameron Mackenzie, feared such problems would make the public lose faith in the Post Office. “People will shut their post boxes and use alternative methods. This will come as a blow to the revenue of Sapo.”

Mackenzie added: “We believe a private-public partnership should come into effect quickly, because Sapo clearly cannot sort out its problems on its own.”