Dutch State Secretary of Economic Affairs and Climate Mona Keijzer said she is working on solutions to shorten the time it takes for mail from the Netherlands to arrive in St. Eustatius and Saba.
In response to written questions submitted last month by Member of the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Annemarie Jorritsma-Lebbink about problems with the postal service in the Caribbean Netherlands, Keijzer stated she is looking at three measures that will result in “considerable improvement” in the time it takes for mail to reach the islands.
The State Secretary explained that together with the postal services facilitator for the Caribbean Netherlands, Flamingo Express Dutch Caribbean NV FXDC, more efficient routes have been looked at. Consultations took place with Dutch postal services PostNL and FXDC to see whether it is possible to already separate the mail for St. Eustatius and Saba in Amsterdam, and to send the mail directly to these islands via St. Maarten.
“This results in a considerable cut in time and would greatly improve the duration of transporting mail from the Netherlands to St. Eustatius and Saba. Both PostNL and FXDC have indicated that they are willing to see if this option can be put into practice. The condition would be that the clearance of goods takes place on both islands instead of in Bonaire,” she stated.
Mail destined for Bonaire is already transported on direct flights from Amsterdam to Bonaire. For mail in the other direction, from Bonaire to the Netherlands, FXDC is looking at using a direct flight from Bonaire to Amsterdam, so the mail doesn’t have to go to Curacao first.
A solution is also being worked on regarding the cost of screening mail. FXDC currently has to hire certified inspectors to carry out this function. This is costly in view of the small amount of mail.
In order to cut cost, FXDC is looking at certification so it can carry out the screening itself. This would involve training FXDC personnel. Aside from lowering cost, this would also result in faster handling at the airport.
A third bottleneck so far has been the lack of screening facilities in Bonaire. To ensure that there are enough qualified persons to inspect the mail, a training company has been hired to train personnel of authorised companies at the airport and the handling agent. This training has taken place and there are now sufficient certified inspectors.
In September and October 2019, a number of test parcels were sent to the islands, in cooperation with the Tax Office and PostNL. The route was displayed through digital trackers. This test showed where on the route the most delays were and which authorities were involved. This made it easier to find possible solutions to eliminate the delays.
The result of the test confirmed the earlier signals of Caribbean Netherlands residents about the long time it takes for mail to reach the islands. PostNL uses an indicative duration of four to eight days in its conditions for the Caribbean Netherlands. The test showed that for the regular mail to Bonaire the conditions of this indicative duration were met.
However, for the mail to Statia and Saba the duration was much longer: between 20 and 45 days. Also, some parcels didn’t arrive at all. Based on the tracking information, it was concluded that the delays were mostly from the airports in Bonaire and St. Maarten en route to Statia and Saba.
The major bottlenecks are the lack and the high cost of screening facilities and the ineffective air transport routes. State Secretary Keijzer hopes that with the measures now being implemented, the duration will be improved.
“Parties have the intention to realise this in a short period of time. The execution of concrete steps with regard to more efficient routes should in principle be possible in the course of this year. This timeframe can, however, be obstructed by the coronavirus crisis,” Keijzer stated.
The Daily Herald.