Postal Dep’t plans to improve parcel collection services

National 4 minutes, 2 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Postal Services Department plans to allow customers collect their parcels at the nearest post office amid an increase of packages from online shopping.

Postmaster-general Hj Md Manan Hj Lakim said his department is working on decentralising package delivery from the Mail Processing Centre on Old Airport Road to other post offices.

“Customers would not have to go to the Mail Processing Centre specifically to pick up their items, but they would be able to pick them up at their nearest post office,” he told The Brunei Times.

However, he did not specify when the move to collect parcels at other post offices would start.

Hj Md Manan Hj Lakim further said the department had a meeting with other agencies to discuss plans for small packet pre-screening through X-ray machines.

According to the postmaster-general, this meant that small packets containing certain cheap and non-dutiable items like clothes and accessories could be delivered directly to addressees without having to be opened or checked.

Currently, customers are required to collect and open their parcels in front of customs officers at the Mail Processing Centre.

Statistics from the Postal Department showed that the number of incoming packages to Brunei grew from 21,967 small packets (packages weighing from two to 10 kilogrammes) in 2007 to 114,825 last year.

Similarly, there were 7,742 incoming parcels (packages weighing more than 10 kilogrammes) in 2007, with the number growing to 21,554 last year.

Postal controllers Hjh Normah Pg Hj Buntar and Md Hazwan Fitri Hassan attributed online shopping as the main reason for the increase in numbers, observing that packages were picked up mostly by youth who are Internet-savvy.

The post controllers said it was imperative for postal customers to understand that all packages that enter Brunei were not just under the Postal Department’s jurisdiction. Similar to other countries, other agencies and stakeholders are also involved in clearing them.

“Customers get their postal delivery cards stamped as soon as we hand their packages over to them. When this is done, it is considered ‘delivered’ at this point and out of our hands,” the Postal Department employees explained.

Zulkarnaine Hj Sulaiman, assistant superintendent of the Royal Customs and Excise Department at the Mail Processing Centre, said the department is the frontline agency responsible for checking all delivered packages and to impose taxes on items, when required.

“Of course, our main mission and priority is to ensure the security of Brunei.

“We have to open and check each package as sometimes the outside of the packet may say it’s something when the actual content of the package is actually something else,” he explained.

Zulkarnaine also said the department’s officers had to detain any packages when required, and to refer it to other agencies - such as the Royal Brunei Police Force, Food Control Department, Pharmacy Department, Department of Civil Aviation, Fisheries Department, Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) and the Islamic Da’wah Centre - for more detailed examinations.

Among items that might have to be detained temporarily by the Customs Department at the MPC include potentially harmful medicines or cosmetics, certain perfumes and other liquids, electronic equipment, weapons or anything considered to be a weapon, live animals, plants and seeds, as well as food items.

“After these items have been checked and deemed safe by the appropriate agencies (we refer the items to), they would then be returned to the addressees,” Zulkarnaine explained.

Meanwhile, books or publications would have to be filtered by the Publications Unit (under the Prime Minister’s Office) for any politically or religiously sensitive content.

Figures from the Customs Department showed that customs officers had to go through some 500 to 700 packages in a day at the Mail Processing Centre, with over 11,000 packages checked last month alone.

Regular postal delivery user Md Habzilah Hj Abdul Wahab, 25, said he did not find the current package delivery procedures inconvenient, as he felt that it would help deter criminal activity, such as the smuggling of drugs into Brunei.

However, Md Habzilah suggested introducing pre-screening measures, so that postal customers would be able to receive small packages directly at their houses.

Francis Dumadag, who started using postal delivery services regularly in Brunei over the past year, suggested authorities change the current system where only big packages needed to be checked in person by customs officers.

“Of course, I would prefer my items sent directly to my door, but at the moment, I don’t mind picking them up here – I’m fine with the current customs regulations and rules,” he explained.

The 31-year-old also expressed approval of possible decentralisation of package delivery to other post offices.

“Sometimes the queue here (at the MPC) can be very long when there are a lot of people – maybe the queue will be a lot smaller if you could pick up your packages at your nearest post offices,” he added.

The Brunei Times