By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
TRANSPORT and Local Government Minister Renward Wells announced a “final” timeline of the third week in May for the General Post Office’s official move from East Hill Street to Town Centre Mall.
The new “state of the art” location is 99 percent complete, Mr Wells told The Tribune yesterday, despite its appearance just three weeks ago when the Progressive Liberal Party conducted an impromptu tour of the site.
Although the Post Office Bank and the cafeteria were finished before Christmas, the minister said he did not want a piecemeal move, adding several factors contributed to the general delay of the relocation.
He said it all came down to different aspects of the facility’s drawings needing to be redone, issues with mailboxes and problems with some parts of the building’s power supply for equipment like CCTV. Last October, an initial deadliine of December 15, 2018 was set for the move.
However, by November the government said the relocation was set for between Christmas and the end of 2018. But when December came, that deadline was extended to January 1 and when that date had passed, Mr Wells said the new relocation date would be moved to the middle of February.
Overall, issues at the run down East Hill Street location have impacted the revenue generation capability of the Post Office, now reducing its contribution to the consolidated fund to around $2m from about $6m in 2012, Mr Wells said.
He said it is the government’s intention to restore the essential service to its former efficiency aided by additional staff to ensure mail is handled properly.
“I have given at least three different timelines as to when the post office was going to be open and we have had extension in time mainly due to a number of factors. . ,” Mr Wells said.
“We had set a timeline for I think the ending of February beginning of March because we believed at the time that we could use the boxes from East Hill Street to simply instal them at Town Centre Mall. Unfortunately the boxes at East Hill Street could not be moved so we had to order post office boxes. We thought we could have gotten them from Canada. We sourced them, but unfortunately we ended up having to get them from China.
“That put a huge delay in our construction timeline, rather an extension of time in our construction timeline because there’s aspects of the post office that could not be closed up until those boxes arrived. We thought we would have been able to do it by the end of March. Again, unfortunately the boxes came in in the middle of March but the boxes are now installed completely.”
He also said: “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 of the third week in May for all of the post office staff to be in the Town Centre Mall.
“We also had aspects of the low voltage design, which is the CCTV cameras, the data drops for Internet that need to have been redesigned for the Town Centre Mall. That design is completed.”
Within about five weeks until the new deadline, Mr Wells said most of the building is complete. He further clarified that the agreement between the government and the landlord was for this to be a turnkey operation. However the government spent $70,000 on furniture and the low voltage design was an additional $130,000.
“In terms of the construction we are 99 percent complete with the builder’s work,” he said.
“The executive offices are done, the post boxes are in, the warehouse is completed, the air-conditioning unit is in, the electrics are installed, the cafeteria is up and running, the Post Office Bank has been up and running.
“Our issue is we are now having to instal what you would know as an engineer is the low voltage design, which has to do with really the CCTV cameras, data links.
“So after those wires would have been pulled by the contractor, BTC has to come in and bring its telephones and hook up its telephones to the requisite desks and Cable Bahamas would have to come in and run its cable lines and that too was in an issue with both BTC and Cable because before you could have that you need to know where your desks were going to go.
“No one could have expected the contractor to purchase government furniture so that was a delay for us. Government is responsible to purchase the furniture that is supposed to be in at the end of this month.”
The minister also responded to claims by Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin that Family Island residents had not received international mail for several weeks.
While he admitted that the post office was behind in delivering some mail, Mr Wells said he was not aware of Mrs Hanna Martin’s claim.