Thursday, April 11, 2019
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
WHILE doubting the government will meet its latest General Post Office relocation date, Opposition leader Philip “Brave” Davis yesterday urged the government to lay on the table of the House of Assembly the lease agreement for the Town Centre Mall.
Mr Davis said he did not believe Transport and Aviation Minister Renward Wells’ assertion that the facility is now 99 percent complete or that the move would happen during the third week in May.
The Progressive Liberal Party made an impromptu visit to the mall about three weeks ago. At that point, the new Post Office site appeared far from complete.
“It was always a smokescreen to hide the wish of the government to do something for one of their members,” said Mr Davis. “So they created this expectation that the Post Office would have been ready in December. It wasn’t ready December (so) they gave another date.
“I doubt that they will be able to keep this date given the state of the repairs now. We don’t believe them and we don’t trust their word. We will wait to see.”
He continued: “While we are on the question, we want them to lay the lease.
“What are the lease arrangements that governs the occupancy of the Post Office at that site? There was a promise from them to lay it on the table. Why has it not been laid?
“We want them to disclose it.”
Trade, Financial Services and Immigration Minister Brent Symonette is co-owner of the mall.
Mr Davis also questioned the specifications of the new location being a turnkey operation. This was revealed on Tuesday by Mr Wells who told reporters the government’s out of pocket expense so far was $70,000 for furniture and $130,000 for necessary electrical work.
“Well that don’t sound like a turnkey to me if they had to come up with any sums to make the place occupancy ready for the services that are going to be occupied in that building,” said Mr Davis.
“Another thing is what does ‘turnkey’ mean? Are there any hidden recuperative costs in the arrangement?
“That’s why the lease document needs to be laid. I need to see what is in writing between them.”
On Tuesday, the minister described the new General Post Office location as “state of the art”.
He told reporters that the Post Office Bank and the cafeteria were finished before Christmas 2018, but the move was not approved because he did not want a piecemeal move.
Specifically regarding the delay, Mr Wells said several factors played a role in not being able to meet deadlines.
He said it all came down to different aspects of the facility’s drawings needing to be redone, issues with mailboxes and problems with some parts of the building’s power supply for equipment like CCTV. Last October, an initial deadline of December 15, 2018 was set for the move.
However, by November the government said the relocation was set for between Christmas and the end of 2018. But when December came, that deadline was extended to January 1 and when that date had passed, Mr Wells said the new relocation date would be moved to the middle of February.
Overall, issues at the run down East Hill Street location have impacted the revenue generation capability of the Post Office, now reducing its contribution to the consolidated fund to around $2m from about $6m in 2012, Mr Wells said.
He said it is the government’s intention to restore the essential service to its former efficiency will be aided by additional staff to ensure mail is handled properly.