Wells does not deny or confirm mail shredding allegations

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells, whose portfolio also includes the General Post Office, on Wednesday confirmed that there was an “extreme” backlog of mail at the General Post Office on East Hill Street.

He did not confirm or deny, however, if mail back-dated some three months had allegedly been shredded.

“As I said on the floor of the House, I am advised that there is a process by which all post offices discard certain kinds and types of mail and as minister, I am drilling down into that,” Wells told media when the House of Assembly suspended yesterday for the lunch break.

On Tuesday, President of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) Kimsley Ferguson, told Eyewitness News that he had received information [from] sources that instructions were given by the postmistress to bring mail from various post offices to the East Hill Street to have the mail shredded.

However, Wells told the media yesterday that he could not respond to the claims levied by Ferguson and his ministry would release a formal statement to address the allegations.

“I am advised that there is a process by which mail is discarded and you would see that the former minister [Glennys Hanna-Martin], also while she was on the floor of the House, spoke to the issue about mail going to the family islands without addresses, quote on quote.

“So there is a process by which this takes place. I am being advised as to what that specific process is and at the end of the day, the Ministry will have a formal statement regarding what was spoken of last night [by the BPSU president alleging that mail had been shredded].

Wells said when it comes to examining certain matters, “there’s always the facts and the extrapolation of the facts to make it more than it already is.”

“I don’t believe any sensible person or sensible institution would take importance and minimize importance, and so at the end of the day I am going to leave that right there until we make our formal statement.

“We will be getting back to you with all of the facts in a written statement and then we will be able to proceed from there,” Wells said.

When pressed further on the issue, Wells expressed that he does not believe that any officer in the post office would do anything ”untoward” or that is not within the legal framework of the way that a  post office should operate.

“So the very assertion that members would be shredding important mail is concerning because I do not believe that that speaks to the character of the workers in the post office that I have seen.

“At the end of the day, the government of The Bahamas has certain positions, there are certain rules and regulations under which you work, and we will have to respond in a manner that is befitting of a responsive and a responsible government,” Wells said.

Meanwhile, having watched the exclusive report on Eyewitness News, Englerston MP Glennys Hanna-Martin also made mention of the alleged shredding of mail at the General Post Office.

“It [alleged shredding] is not in line with any process and so I am raising the concern…” Hanna-Martin said, adding that she only wants clarity and facts on a matter that could be seen as “very serious” if found to be true.

“We know that there is a push to relocate and we have to make sure that everything is in order as we get to meet a deadline… and so we have to make sure that the pressures on the postal staff are not such that they are not able to ensure strict compliance with procedures.

“And so Mr. Speaker, I am putting on the record of this House a request for a formal inquiry and a report to this parliament as to what happened with the mail.

“There is a  concern for the Bahamian people as to what might have happened to mail. All we are asking for is a report on the accountability on the matter.”

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 General Post Office is in the process of being relocated to the Town Centre Mall in early 2019. The government plans to lease the Mall for more than $900,000.