Three months’ worth of mail allegedly shredded
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As preparations are underway to relocate, the General Post Office on East Hill Street has allegedly engaged in a mass shredding exercise of mail, according to President of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) Kimsley Ferguson.
“I would have received information [from] my sources that instructions were given by the post mistress to bring mail from various post offices to the East Hill Street to have the mail shredded,” Ferguson alleged.
When contacted for comment last night, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells, whose portfolio includes the General Post Office, said he was seeking to determine the facts.
He said, “I will get back to you”.
He did not offer comment further when later contacted.
Speaking to Eyewitness News Online, Ferguson said, “It is indeed a concern because I have been having challenges with my mail personally and as for the union, we have been unable to get them (mail) in a timely fashion.
“The concern is there are pertinent documents that may be in the mail, which may have been pending for some time that can either take the life of an individual in the area of destruction or that can take them in a positive direction,” Ferguson said.
“So, I really would like this information confirmed as to who would have given instructions [to have the mail shredded].”
The BPSU president said having visited the General Post Office on numerous occasions, he found that mail had accumulated in “mountains”.
“The backlog of mail was tremendous …and I really can’t say what the Bahamian law is, but I know it is a federal offense [in the United States] to tamper with a person’s mail, and destroying a person’s mail also comes under tampering.”
Noted attorney Wayne Munroe, QC, told Eyewitness News Online that if mail at the General Post Office was in fact shredded, it is a breach as it constitutes damage to someone’s personal property.
The attorney said the alleged shredding exercise is a legal concern, not only for the government, but also for those persons who have allegedly carried out the shredding exercise.
Mike Maura, Director of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, also commented on the alleged shredding yesterday.
Maura told Eyewitness News Online that reports that mail had allegedly been shredded is “shocking”, but it is not surprising, given the complete disarray that the post office service has been in over the past several months.
“To some, three months may seem to be a very long time and some may feel as if that mail was stale-dated or not worth something, but that mail could be everything – from a very personal letter from a family member that is no longer with us.
“It could be photographs; unique one-of-a-kind photographs of family members. And from a business standpoint, it honestly could be payments that businesses have been waiting on and are desperate for,” Maura said.
The Chamber of Commerce president said the reality is many businesses receive old mail, but it still has value.
“I want to believe that the mail has gone through some sort of review and some form of sorting at least in an effort to identify mail that has some value that should not be shredded or destroyed.
“If it happens to be an envelope from Time Magazine stamped on the outside, where it looks like someone is trying to sell a subscription, then obviously that is a big difference than something that is personal in nature or may look like a payment of some type.
“It is like pouring salt in a wound to hear that we are [allegedly] destroying mail that is three months old, but I imagine it is out of desperation.”
Meanwhile, the General Post Office is in the process of being relocated to the Town Center Mall in early 2019.
The proposed move came with much controversy as the mall is partially owned by Brent Symonnette, a sitting Cabinet Minister.
The government plans to lease the Town Center Mall for more than $900,000.
However, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis defended the government’s decision to lease the Town Center Mall.
Back in October, when the lease deal sparked much public criticism about the move being a clear conflict of interest, Minnis told parliamentarians in the House of Assembly that the move was not against the law as Symonette had declared his shares.
He also revealed that the constitution allows for a member of parliament to hold a contract with the government.
Four Free National Movement Members of Parliament — Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller; Bain and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson; Pineridge MP Fredrick McAlpine and Centerville MP Reece Chipman — joined the four opposition members in voting against the resolution moved in Parliament to relocate the post office to the Town Center Mall.