SA Post Office – The truth behind its massive backlog and delivery delays

The SA Post Office is still struggling to clear the backlog of parcels and letters which is causing huge delivery delays.

It was previously reported that most of the backlog was created by a two-and-a-half week strike – and a one week go-slow that preceded it – which ended on 18 July.

In August, SA Post Office CEO Mark Barnes said he was confident the backlog will be “cleared by the end of September and that normal operations will resume”.

The Post Office did not meet this deadline, and Barnes then moved the backlog clearing date to the end of October.

This deadline was also missed, and he has now stated they hope to resolve the issue by the end of November.

The reasons behind the backlog

In an interview with Radio 702’s Joanne Joseph, Barnes said they have brought down the backlog from 46 million to 4.9 million items over the last six months.

This means that the backlog started in May – long before the strike which the SA Post Office faced in July.

Barnes explained they did not pay their logistics transport providers in April, and they “stopped pitching up in their trucks and stopped pitching up with their forklifts”.

Apart from operational problems like the strike and not paying their service providers, the Post Office has also seen a big increase in international mail.

“We have a lot of low-value items that require high maintenance work like going through customs and checking invoice values,” said Barnes.

Barnes said the SA Post Office’s international mail volumes have increased by 400% over the last year, but that they have not invested in the systems capabilities to match this increase.

The Post Office is investing in these capabilities now, which should resolve many of these problems.

He added that they have decentralised “control of this problem” by beefing up regional management.

“This change in organisational structure and approach is starting to work,” he said.

MyBroadband SA Post Office test

Joseph then questioned Barnes about tests conducted by MyBroadband, which showed that letters take very long to be delivered or are not delivered at all.

She was referring to a recent MyBroadband Post Office letter delivery test where community members sent letters from across South Africa to the Lyttelton Post Office.

MyBroadband logged all the sent letters and tracked them to see how long it takes for a letter to arrive in its postbox.

The results showed that the Post Office failed to meet a single of its ICASA delivery requirements, and after more than three months some of the letters have still not been delivered.

Barnes said he was not aware of the test conducted by MyBroadband and accused Joseph of making “very sweeping statements”.

Joseph highlighted that the test results were in the public domain and reported on, and it can therefore not be viewed as a “sweeping statement”.

The telephone connection with Barnes was then lost, and the interview could not continue.

No email response from the Post Office

Barnes also told Radio 702 that “every email that gets sent to me or the business gets followed up on. Every single email”.

“So, if there is an experience which one of our customers have that gets brought to our attention, we send people chasing after it because that’s our job,” he said.

However, if this was true, Barnes would have known about the tests conducted by MyBroadband and the problems mentioned by Joseph.

MyBroadband contacted the SA Post Office on 1 August regarding its letter test, but no feedback was received.

MyBroadband then followed up with the test results on 14 August, but again the company did not respond.

MyBroadband also contacted Barnes directly on two previous occasions, but there was no response from Barnes or any other company representative.

Post Office test results

The graphic below provides an overview of the results of MyBroadband’s recent Post Office Test.


Now read: It took the SA Post Office 81 days to deliver a letter, which should take only 3 days

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SA Post Office – The truth behind its massive backlog and delivery delays