Following the reversal suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the postal service improved significantly in its quality across the world in 2021. It is a general finding of the 2022 Postal Development Report, released by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) last week. The Berne-based United Nations specialised agency's flagship report combines postal big data and statistics made available by 172 countries including Bangladesh.
The critical element of the report is the 2021 Integrated Index for Postal Development (2IPD) which presents a comprehensive view of current global postal development. The index is prepared on four key dimensions of postal development: postal reliability, reach, relevance and resilience. These are also referred to as the "4Rs" of postal development. In the index, countries are classified into ten levels of postal development. Level one to four includes countries with low to lower-middle postal development performances. Level five to ten includes countries with upper-middle and high postal development achievements.
Bangladesh is placed at level two, which means the country's postal development situation is relatively low. With an IPD score of 13.9, the country's performance in postal service is markedly below Nepal (14.8) and Myanmar (15.1). In South Asia, only Afghanistan (12.6) and Bhutan (8.6) scored lower than Bangladesh. Sri Lanka (33.6) is placed in level four, Pakistan (46.2) in level five and India (57.3) in level six. The UPU suggested that the countries in level two 'need to undertake substantial service and business model improvements to achieve better postal prospects in the coming decade.'
The low score due to the low level of development in the postal service of Bangladesh is not surprising at all. Private courier services deliver most of the letters and documents as they have developed a fast, efficient, competitive system. The national postal department, Bangladesh Post Office, provides service to some government offices and autonomous bodies. The post office also provides parcel services at home and abroad which is still prevalent. Postal banking is another service people get.
There is, however, an allegation that, in many cases, the post offices fail to deliver letters or documents to the receivers on time. Moreover, delays in reaching the destinations and loss of documents in some cases are not uncommon for the national postal services. Thus, the reliability of the national entity is quite low, which is also reflected in the IPD's reliability score (16.3). The IPD assesses the development of quality of service from a speed and predictability perspective. The quality of other services is also not high for various reasons.
The postal service of Bangladesh is a part of the fascinating history of Indian sub-continent's postal development. The history is, however, not enough to keep the service vibrant and make it time-befitting. Instead, it requires timely reform and modernisation to make the postal service efficient and relevant. Though some measures have been taken by the concerned ministry (Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology) to make the postal service digital, a lot of work is needed to be done. Having a good network and physical infrastructure across the country, it is still possible to revive the national postal service and make it competitive. The citizens of the country also need an efficient and reliable postal service.