EIGHT years after announcing the project, The TT postal Corporation, TTPost, is set to complete the national rollout of the S42 address standard and postal codes by the end of the year. It will implement a basic requirement of modern postal service in time for the celebration of the revamped postal services' 20th anniversary.
Some areas have begun using postal codes and the company has created a web page for its customers to check whether their number is ready. With a witty turn, Minister Le Hunte called on TTPost to "push the envelope" in delivering its services to Trinidad and Tobago.
It's sensible advice, though it should have come as no surprise to TTPost that the nature of its business was fundamentally changing in the digital age and that more would be expected from the agency to remain relevant in the 21st century. The signals were already there a year ago, when chairman Eula Rogers acknowledged that TTPost was not a profitable entity.
Indeed, it had not prepared financial statements for four years at that point, though the numbers available to its management made it clear that it was not a successful player in the market. The government provides a subvention of $79 million to keep the state agency going, providing very traditional jobs to its 1,015 employees.
TTPost’s strength is always going to be in its capacity to efficiently and reliably deliver atoms to its customers that can’t be transferred as bits. It's no surprise, then that TTPost is strengthening partnerships with government ministries in moving documents.
But even that is only going to be a stopgap measure, dependent on the Government’s stubborn unwillingness to embrace digital delivery and verification utilising online systems already in use for almost a decade in the wider world for such routine measures as invoicing, bill payment and information delivery. To meet modern needs will require not just reengineering of its services, it will demand across the board retraining in customer satisfaction.
In July, in a frustrated letter to the editor in Newsday, Colin Wills of the UK noted that a package he tracked after sending it to a relative in Princes Town took three days to travel 4,260 miles to Trinidad and then 14 days to move 38 miles from Piarco to Princes Town.
That isn’t a record to be proud of and only serves to highlight the significant gap between what TTPost hopes to accomplish and the expectations of its customers, who are international as well as local. The new address system is a critical first step, but TTPost has to work harder to become a valued contributor to local ecommerce.