Muscat: Mail in Oman will be delivered to some customers within 24 hours by early 2019, the country’s postal chief has confirmed.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Abdulmalik Al Balushi, CEO of Oman Post, said that a pilot project for overnight delivery of certain forms of mail was underway, and they were expecting to roll this out across 15 major cities in Oman by 2019.
“We are already testing this,” he explained. “You have to understand that this is about increasing the effectiveness of our facilities. You will be able to collect your post in 24 hours in major cities and 48 hours in other parts of the country. We are testing the plan right now and people will see the effect hopefully within this year, but we are testing it and we will launch it the beginning of the year, with certain products.
“For express deliveries, we are trying as much as we can to deliver products directly to the customer as far as is possible, unless the customer wants to collect it from the post office,” added Al Balushi. “We have boxes in malls, but whatever address the sender puts, we will deliver it to that address.
“You can come to any post office to drop off the parcel. In the future, hopefully, next year, we will have a pick-up service, but today, you need to deliver it to a post office and they will deliver it,” added Al Balushi.
“By the time next year comes, we are hoping to offer value added services, so if you have a package arriving at Ruwi, we can deliver it to your office at a minimal charge.
“If you send a parcel to Salalah, for example, it’s going to arrive the next day in Salalah,” he said, adding that at the moment, sending post to Oman’s northern governorate of Musandam was a challenge because of its location. “Khasab is a challenge at the moment because of the location, but we are working on a solution.”
However, Al Balushi was hoping that by next year, a unified postal service would make matters easier than they are currently.
“At this stage, it doesn’t exist, but with the current system and the technology we have, we will be able to deliver, but it is not easy,” he said, referring to the unified postal service, adding that implementing it would require cooperation across government and private sectors. “We are part of a committee, and are giving them views on the postal sector. We are consulted in specific areas and we are contributing.”
He was also quick to mention the challenges that the lack of the unified postal delivery system posed to Oman Post and other similar courier and delivery services.
“If you have fewer addresses and fewer systems of delivery, your cost of delivery is increased and effectiveness of delivery and your correctness of the delivery is decreased,” explained Al Balushi. “If there is no unified addressing system by next year, then we will find our own way to do this. Today, our delivery is minimal, and we only deliver for express services. As we expand our strategy, I am sure we will face challenges.
“Now if I want to deliver to you, and I don’t have an addressing system, I need to call you and you need to explain this, or you need to send me the location via WhatsApp and then if I have the connection, I can reach you,” he added.
“There is a different cost that I am incurring here, and this is a cost that I need to then pass on to the customer, that you ideally wouldn’t need to otherwise pay. If I go to the wrong place, because even if I have the WhatsApp address, the location is not always accurate, so then I am going to have to call you and ask which house I would need to deliver to, so there is a lot of work that is not digitised, so that gives the customer a not very good experience and it also costs more.”
Oman Post also has plans to introduce one-hour delivery services for certain forms of mail, but that project will not happen in the immediate future.
“We will see about that, because we can’t do everything,” said Al Balushi.
“Once we evaluate our products and our product portfolio and evaluate the efficiency of our network, we will make a decision on what services we can offer, and across what parameters and criteria we can offer them.”
Residents in the country are happy about the move. Mohammed Shamim Azad, an expat in the Sultanate said: “The longest I have had to wait for a parcel in the past was a month, so this is a good move. I hope to get a zip code soon, so that I can take deliveries of parcels on time. Right now, I have to call the delivery man and tell him where I live by explaining to him with the help of nearby landmarks.”
“This is very nice to know,” added Zahid Saeed. “Sometimes, I have to take possession of courier parcels in the office, and these are personal things so it would be good to receive them at home. This system coming in will be quite good.”
40% rise in revenues
Muscat: Abdulmalik Al Balushi, the CEO for Oman Post, said that the company is witnessing a great postal traffic and a significant progress.
He said that by the end of 2017, the company achieved 40 per cent growth in revenues and was able to reduce its costs by 4 per cent. He added that it saw an increase in external parcels by 35 per cent this year. With inputs from ONA