SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Post Office (Sapo) will implement full services as of Monday for services permitted under the risk adjusted regulations in line with the coronavirus (Covid-19) level four regulations.
Mail is starting to flow again as sorting facilities, transport, and branches of the Sapo have been granted permission to operate under the provisions of lockdown level four, the Sapo said in a statement.
The majority of post office branches were open for business and a phased approach was being adopted for reopening the remaining branches as soon as measures to ensure their compliance with the regulations had been implemented. Sorting facilities nationally, as well as transport connections, were operational.
“The total branch network available as of the 25th will be 1017 branches nationwide, with operations in the remainder of our branch network brought online in a phased approach as and when we complete implementing measures to ensure that we comply with regulations promulgated to combat the spread of the virus. We envisage that all our branches will be fully operational by 1 June 2020,” Sapo acting CEO Ivumile Nongogo said in the statement.
The Sapo had “deployed a systemised restricted hours shift system” in sorting centres in order to comply with regulations restricting the number of employees allowed on the premises at any one time to observe physical distancing requirements.
Therefore, while the shifts had been introduced to maximise production as well as adherence to the regulations, operations were not currently running at optimal level and this would impact delivery turnaround times of parcels, including items that accumulated prior to the lockdown.
“Indications are that we should deliver the accumulated items that were held up during lockdown within the next three weeks. We appeal to our customers for their patience as we are navigating these unchartered times,” Nongogo said.
Customers were able to check the status of their items using the Sapo’s tracking service (https://www.postoffice.co.za/Tools/tracktrace.html). Customer contact points suspended during the level five lockdown, including the customer service desk (0860-111-502), would resume.
During the level four lockdown, services available in post office branches nationwide included account payments, collection and delivery of parcels, posting of parcels, and certifying documents. As cargo flights to and from other countries were still very few, at the moment the Sapo was able to move mail and parcels to and from Hong Kong, Japan, Portugal, Thailand, and China.
Sapo courier services as well as the delivery of legal documents via DOCEX were also available. Financial services, including money transfer and Post Bank transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, card replacements, and general enquiries, could be performed. The renewal of motor vehicle licenses was earmarked to resume on June 1.
Services related to South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) social grants payments, statements, and balance enquiries, including PIN and card replacement, continued to be available. To reduce costs burdens for Sassa beneficiaries and to eliminate unnecessary social contact, the Sapo had also introduced a USSD service to allow Sassa beneficiaries to check their account balance remotely from their cellphones.
“To perform this transaction, at a cost of R0.60c, which is below the normal bank interchange balance enquiry at an ATM, a Sassa social grant beneficiary must follow the following easy steps on their cellphone: Dial *120*3210# and press enter. Then, put in your ID number and press enter again to see the account balance.”
The Sapo was also piloting a project to roll-out cashless ATMs as additional transacting points of access for communities that would normally have to travel to access financial services. The beneficiaries would be able to access the ATMs from selected small traders located in their communities. Local traders, including spaza shops, interested in offering this service should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, the statement said.