Wells confirms “undeliverable” mail was shredded

Renward Wells, Minister of Transport and Local Government.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Addressing allegations that mail at the General Post Office had been shredded, Minister responsible for the post office, Renward Wells, confirmed on Thursday that the most recent and deliberate destruction of “undeliverable” mail was on November 1 and 2, upon the authorization of the Postmaster General.

According to a statement released yesterday by Wells, the conventional means of destruction is shredding.

Earlier this week, President of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) Kimsley Ferguson, revealed to Eyewitness News that the General Post Office had engaged in a mass shredding exercise, and he had expressed concern of whether or not the move was legal.

Wells noted, however, that section 45 of the Post Office Rules offer prescriptions for the treatment of undeliverable letters, postcards, small packets, printed and commercial papers or samples as well as parcels, depending on their origin.

“In each case, the law ultimately provides for their retention and resale if they are of value or for their destruction if they are of no value,” the statement read.

“The rules authorize the Postmaster General to make decisions as to their disposal, either immediate, after one month, after two months, or up to one year on a case-by-case basis.”

Wells said customers can be assured that the Post Office Department takes the security and delivery of mail very seriously and that operation remains within the ambit of the law.

“To assist our efforts, all customers are encouraged to clear their private boxes regularly,” the statement read.

The statement further outlined that The Bahamas has membership in the United Postal Union (UPU) and it is therefore required to ensure that delivery of mail among countries follows consistent rules and standards.

“The rules of the UPU are contained in a series of legally binding treaty-level agreements and are entrenched in local law. The Post Office Act accommodates our accession to the UPU and ensures that our standard keeps pace with our international partners,” outlined the statement issued by Wells.

The General Post Office is in the process of being relocated to the Town Centre Mall in early 2019.

Wells outlined in his statement that the standards of the Post Office will be restored to one that will regain the respect of international partners.

“Postal workers and the Bahamian public have been in excess of three years without an adequate means for providing this essential service,” he said.

“I salute the hardworking team, who with their postmaster general, continue to act within the law and on behalf of the Bahamian people.

“I look forward to the day that they are comfortably accommodated in their new offices.”

The proposed move of the General Post Office to the Town Centre Mall came with much controversy as the mall is partially owned by Brent Symonnette, a sitting Cabinet Minister.

However, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis defended the government’s decision to lease the Town Centre 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 Centre Mall.

The government plans to lease the Town Center Mall for more than $900,000.