Postal operator could withdraw from Dutch Caribbean islands

The postal operator in the former Netherlands Antilles has said it could pull out of providing services for the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius at the end of the year. Nieuwe Post Nederlandse Antillen (NPNA) said on Friday that services on the islands were “costly” and local infrastructure inadequate to provide postal services. Without sufficient payment from the Dutch government, the company said it would no longer provide the services.

Curacao-based NPNA operates in Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius under concession with the Dutch government, which now administrates those three islands.

The current concession is due to run out at the end of this year, and the two sides are negotiating a possible renewal.

But this week, Dutch economic affairs secretary Henk Bleacher wrote to leaders of the Dutch House of Representatives saying he was currently considering whether alternative postal operators might be prepared to provide services in the islands.

Bleacher was responding to complaints about delayed mail services, stating his belief that postal services have not sufficiently improved since the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010.

The minister said he wanted to hold a consultation on postal services in the Caribbean Netherlands to explore possible legislative changes, standard changes or an alternative postal contractor.

“I have already commissioned an external agency to carry out an exploration of whether, and if so, under what conditions, parties are prepared to take on postal services for parts of the Caribbean Netherlands,” Bleacher said, suggesting a review would be undertaken this autumn.

NPNA

However, the NPNA general managing director Franklin Sluis said on Friday that it was the Dutch government’s responsibility to ensure infrastructure was suitable for quality mail services, and that sufficient payment was provided.

“If you would like a first class service you must be able to pay for it. Your infrastructure must be in shape, otherwise you cannot comply,” Sluis told Post&Parcel.

“If nobody’s going to pay for the service then I believe we will not provide the service. If we do not come to a understanding about the cost involved, we cannot subsidise Holland to provide this service, which is their obligation.”

One recommendation that has come from external consultants for the Dutch government has been that the Caribbean Netherlands should have a proper post code system.

However, the Dutch minister said this week that he believed implementing a post code system would take “many years” to complete and require substantial resources.

He said: “This does require the necessary financial instruments and an extensive information campaign in order to ensure that senders of mail – residents and non-residents of Caribbean Netherlands – are actually going to use this system of addressing.”

Bleacher also suggested that post codes were most effective at improving postal service efficiency in locations with a dense delivery point network – which the Caribbean islands do not have.

Sluis said firmly that the Dutch government had to do something about the house numbering and addressing if it wanted improved postal services.

He said: “The infrastructure on these islands is not what it must be to be able to deliver within the quality of service that’s mandated by the concession.”

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