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More efficient postal service to Statia, Saba in the works

Dutch State Secretary of Economic Af­fairs and Climate Mona Keijzer said she is working on solutions to shorten the time it takes for mail from the Netherlands to arrive in St. Eustatius and Saba.

In response to written ques­tions submitted last month by Member of the First Chamber of the Dutch Par­liament Annemarie Jorrits­ma-Lebbink about problems with the postal service in the Caribbean Netherlands, Keijzer stated she is look­ing at three measures that will result in “considerable improvement” in the time it takes for mail to reach the islands.

The State Secretary ex­plained that together with the postal services facili­tator for the Caribbean Netherlands, Flamingo Express Dutch Caribbean NV FXDC, more efficient routes have been looked at. Consultations took place with Dutch postal services PostNL and FXDC to see whether it is possible to al­ready separate the mail for St. Eustatius and Saba in Amsterdam, and to send the mail directly to these islands via St. Maarten.

“This results in a consider­able cut in time and would greatly improve the dura­tion of transporting mail from the Netherlands to St. Eustatius and Saba. Both PostNL and FXDC have in­dicated that they are willing to see if this option can be put into practice. The condi­tion would be that the clearance of goods takes place on both islands instead of in Bonaire,” she stated.

Mail destined for Bonaire is already transported on direct flights from Amster­dam to Bonaire. For mail in the other direction, from Bonaire to the Netherlands, FXDC is looking at using a direct flight from Bonaire to Amsterdam, so the mail doesn’t have to go to Cura­cao first.

A solution is also be­ing worked on regarding the cost of screening mail. FXDC currently has to hire certified inspectors to carry out this function. This is costly in view of the small amount of mail.

In order to cut cost, FXDC is looking at certification so it can carry out the screen­ing itself. This would involve training FXDC personnel. Aside from lowering cost, this would also result in fast­er handling at the airport.

A third bottleneck so far has been the lack of screen­ing facilities in Bonaire. To ensure that there are enough qualified persons to inspect the mail, a training company has been hired to train personnel of autho­rised companies at the air­port and the handling agent. This training has taken place and there are now sufficient certified inspectors.

In September and October 2019, a number of test par­cels were sent to the islands, in cooperation with the Tax Office and PostNL. The route was displayed through digital trackers. This test showed where on the route the most delays were and which authorities were in­volved. This made it easier to find possible solutions to eliminate the delays.

The result of the test con­firmed the earlier signals of Caribbean Netherlands resi­dents about the long time it takes for mail to reach the islands. PostNL uses an in­dicative duration of four to eight days in its conditions for the Caribbean Nether­lands. The test showed that for the regular mail to Bo­naire the conditions of this indicative duration were met.

However, for the mail to Statia and Saba the duration was much longer: between 20 and 45 days. Also, some parcels didn’t arrive at all. Based on the tracking in­formation, it was concluded that the delays were mostly from the airports in Bonaire and St. Maarten en route to Statia and Saba.

The major bottlenecks are the lack and the high cost of screening facilities and the ineffective air trans­port routes. State Secretary Keijzer hopes that with the measures now being imple­mented, the duration will be improved.

“Parties have the intention to realise this in a short peri­od of time. The execution of concrete steps with regard to more efficient routes should in principle be possible in the course of this year. This timeframe can, however, be obstructed by the coronavi­rus crisis,” Keijzer stated.

The Daily Herald.

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