Post office to set up cyber cafes in Karachi -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Post office to set up cyber cafes in Karachi

KARACHI- The Pakistan Post Office will open a cyber cafe in the city this month, to provide e-mail service for its customers who are now switching increasingly to the Internet instead of the conventional mail service.

The PPO has signed an agreement with Paknet, a subsidiary of the Pakistan Telecommunication Limited, open cyber cafes throughout the city and Sindh.

The Sindh Postmaster General, Shaikh Qamar Afzal-ul-Jamil, told that the GPO’s first cyber café opened in Hyderabad recently, while similar cafe would start also functioning in Karachi this month. He added that a number of cyber cafes have also been opened at post offices in other parts of the country.

The PPO has also signed an agreement with the Comset information technology (IT) Institute to set up training institutes during the next five years to impart training to 30,000 post office employees.

He said that the PPO is expected to earn an additional profit of Rs500 million in 2001, as compared to 108 million in 2000, due to these measures and the increase in postal charges.

A total of 13,000 small and big post offices are currently operating, out of which 80 are the big GPOs. During the last six months, 200-300 loss-making POs have also been shut down, he added.

POs are now facing challenges with the onslaught of the emerging new technologies and advancements of e-mail and its increasing use through the Internet, which has shrunk the daily volume of both local and international mail.

Various post office officials said that the Internet had dealt a crippling blow to the daily volume of mail and as a result of this, the PPO had enhanced inland and foreign postage rates and fees by 100 per cent from April 1, to cover up losses and increase profits.

The officials said that at least 30-40 per cent of the mail business had been affected since people started switching over to e-mall.

“Earlier, we used to receive at least 10 upcountry-bound mail per hour which has now reduced to three to four letters,” they added.

The officials were of the view that the phenomenal increase in postal charges may not achieve the desired results of boosting PPO profits. Others, however, said that since the railway, air and general transportation charges have increased tremendously within the last few years, the PPO was bound to increase charges to offset the cost.

However, the Postmaster General has a different view on the impact of e-mail through the Internet on local post offices.

“E-mail has not made a big impact on our daily mail service. But it has definitely affected our letter mail service by at least 10 per cent,” he said.

The president of the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan, Sanaullah Bhutta, said that according to an estimate, 450,000 e-mails are being sent daily to various local and foreign destinations, with the number rising sharply every year.

He said the number of Internet users is increasing day by day and 500,000 people are using the Internet out of the over 600,000 accounts maintained by the customers through 56 Internet service providers all over the country.

Shaikh Qamar said post offices have been in the deficit for the last 52 years. The per-capita posting ranges in Pakistan between four to five letters per annum. In Karachi alone, around 270,000 magazines, letters, periodicals and newspapers are dispatched upcountry on a daily basis, he added.

Source: Business Recorder