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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Posta must avoid getting into money-losing ventures

POSTMASTER GENERAL DAN KAGWE DURING THE LAUNCH OF COMMEMORATIVE STAMPS AT THE HUDUMA CENTRE OFFICES IN MOMBASA ON MAY 30, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG
POSTMASTER GENERAL DAN KAGWE DURING THE LAUNCH OF COMMEMORATIVE STAMPS AT THE HUDUMA CENTRE OFFICES IN MOMBASA ON MAY 30, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG  

It is inevitable that the Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) will need to re-invent itself to survive this digital era, but venturing into public transport business was a wrong-headed idea that it has now belatedly dropped.  In the late 1990s, PCK was hived off the Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Corporation—together with Telkom Kenya and the current Communications Authority.

Even at the time of its separation from the tottering giant, it was still grappling with irrelevancy. Indeed, one of the major Anglo Leasing scandals, the supply of internet via satellite to post offices, arose from this struggle for relevance.

Since then, it has tried several ventures including using its outlets for payment of utility bills to survive, but it is not yet there.

Worse still, its core business of snail-mail and parcel delivery is either getting outdated or taken away by competition, including buses and a host of passenger vans.

The recent venture into Passenger Service Vehicles (PSVs) business was however doomed to fail. It would make more sense to use courier firms with established lines of business to carry both mail and parcels instead of investing in expensive infrastructure and personnel to do the job. One could easily conjecture that the venture was never meant to help the company. We welcome the fact that Postmaster-General Tom Kagwe has pulled the plug on the venture the corporation has been piloting since 2016.

Hopefully, Posta will continue with its fight for survival, obviously in a much leaner form and with better-trained and -motivated staff. For one, Posta has a lot prime land where it can engage in public private partnerships to unlock the value—with help from experts and in line with the law. It can also intensify use of its premises to offer financial (which it is already doing) and other services.

It is unlikely Posta will survive as it is. It is thus important that it also learns from similar establishments worldwide that are facing the same plight. But it must avoid getting into obviously untenable, money-losing ventures at all costs. 

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