Post offices of Historic value – to evolve with the times or live in the age of post? (VIDEO)

Post offices of Historic value – to evolve with the times or live in the age of post? (VIDEO)

Written by Lahiru Fernando

13 Jun, 2017 | 7:03 pm

The strike action launched by postal workers at midnight on Monday, July 12,  has brought postal activities to a grinding halt. The workstations, from sorting of letters, to delivery have been affected by the strike, said Postmaster General Rohana Abeyratne.

The strike

The postal workers commenced the 48 hour country-wide strike against attempts to sell off post offices of historical value to create hotels. According to trade unions, the offices in question are

  • Nuwara Eliya post office – Built in 1893 and designed by a British architect
  • Galle Fort post office – Built in the 18th century, one of the five post offices first declared open during the time of Governor Fredrick North.
  • Kandy post office

The strike was launched by workers attached to 28 trade unions has shut down 640 post offices and 3,410 sub-post offices. And if a solution is not given, Joint Postal Trade Union Alliance says that there will be an is;and wide protest “from the 26th of this month (June) which encompasses all 653 post offices and 3410 sub post offices ..”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Posts, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs has described the trade union action as unfair.

Minister M.H.A. Haleem says the Prime Minister is of the view that main cities need to be developed, renovate old buildings and utilize them in a way to bring better revenue. The minister pointed out that Postal Department does not lose ownership through the conversion.

However, the JPTUA’s H.K. Kariyawasam says that setting up post offices in sparsely populated areas will affect the post office income.

Conversion of old state buildings – a common feature around the world

It is a common feature around the world to convert old iconic state buildings (like post offices) into income generating hotels.

The most high profile example of a post office hotel conversion in recent times is the Trump International Hotel, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington.

  • Trump International Hotel – Built in 1899, this landmark post office is just down the road from the White House
  • The Fullerton, Singapore – built in 1924.
  • The Sofitel Munich Bayerpost, Germany – built in 1896.
  • The Hotel Telegraaf, Estonia – built in 1878
  • The Distinction Dunedin, New Zealand – 1937
  • Clarion Hotel Post, Gothenburg, Sweden – built in 1925.
  • And in Copenhagen, Denmark -a Norwegian owned group is converting the city’s former central post office, an impressive neo – baroque building built over 100 years ago.

With the rapid expansion of electronic mail the, traditional services of the post office have had to evolve.

The old post office buildings, generally situated in the heart of cities and towns, often in need of major renovations, are rapidly considered no longer suitable and economically viable for the modern postal service. These hotels have attracted investment, created jobs and preserved the fabric of these iconic buildings

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