Published on 13 Aug 2012 at 08:51
In an interview with www.bamdad.af, Khalilullah Hayatzada, Acting Director of Postal Services at the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology (MCIT), talks about the development of Afghanistan’s postal service over the past decade. According to Hayatzada, the country’s postal service covers all 34 provinces and 85 to 90 percent of citizens are able to benefit from these services. But, lack of correct addresses in cities and rural areas, unnamed streets and unmarked houses, and security challenges have stunted the development of Afghanistan’s postal service.
When did Afghanistan first offer postal services?
Postal services began in the 1870s during the reign of King Amir Shir Ali Khan in Afghanistan. The first post office was established in Balaeisar, Kabul with five regional post offices in big cities, including Marzar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Herat.
The first lithographic postal stamp ‘Kala-e-Shir’ [lion’s head] was produced at that office and was used for postal services. This stamp was purchased with ‘Shahee’ and ‘Tatar’ – the coin currency at that time. Following further development in printing of postal stamps, changes occurred in postal services.
Afghanistan joined the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1928 and published several postal stamps on different occasions.
During King Amanullah Khan‘s reign, many post offices were established across the country and postmen were given horses and bicycles to deliver government and private packages.
The number of post offices continued to increase under King Zahir Shah and different postal stamps were used. Transit postal offices were established in all provinces and along the borders during President Daud Khan’s period, which provided ground postal services nationally and internationally.
How have postal services progressed from then until now?
Though the number of post offices increased during the Communist regime in Afghanistan, different kinds of postal stamps were printed to propagate political [Soviet] issues. These services slowed down during the civil war in Afghanistan. Following the establishment of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan in 2002, further attention was paid to postal services and information technology came into use to facilitate these services.
How many provinces are covered by the postal service and how many people use these services?
Postal services are provided through 464 central, district, border and airport post offices in all 34 provinces, and 85 to 90 percent of people are able to access these services.
Is the mail safe from being stolen or misplaced in the postal system?
The principles of postal services are safety, privacy and speed. Article 37 of the Afghan Constitution guarantees the safety of postal services. People’s postal packages are safely delivered to correct addresses. Based on the postal package damage compensation law, people will receive compensation for their missing or stolen packages.
How many private national and international companies provide postal services in Afghanistan?
In addition to 464 government post offices, five private companies are providing postal services, including two at the national level and three others at the international level.
In other countries, people can buy or sell goods over the Internet and access postal services to deliver them. But, due to lack of marked addresses and limited access to the Internet in Afghanistan, we are unable to provide such services. Hopefully, the municipalities will name streets and number houses in all the provinces so that we will be able to provide such services.
Though the MCIT Postal Directorate has prepared and assigned postal codes to the capital [Kabul Municipality] and all provinces of the country, we are waiting for provincial center municipalities to name streets and number houses to ease our services.
Postal codes make postal delivery easier. For instance, we have two districts with same name – Qarabagh district in Kabul and Qarabagh district in Ghazni. But with postal codes, it is easy to send the postal package to correct district.
Unlike telephone and Internet services, postal services have not developed much over the past decade. Why is this?
Compared to the years before 2001, postal services have developed remarkably, but still face some challenges, including security. We are unable to send postal packages on time. But, we have some achievements too. Postal service revenues increased from 96 million Afghanis to 118 million Afghanis between 2009 and 2010, and increased to 128 million Afghanis in 2011. This shows a 5 to 10 percent increase in postal service revenue every year. Postal services are improving every year.
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