Emirates Post is adapting to the changing dynamics of the business. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/XPRESS

Dubai: The country will have a new address system that will enable the postal authorities to offer complete doorstep delivery services, a top government official said.

Abdullah Mohammad Al Ashram, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Post, told XPRESS in an exclusive interview that the new system will be introduced once the infrastructure is ready.

"It is part of the strategy that the government is aiming for with the expansion of the country. It will take some time but we will definitely introduce the service when we are ready," he said. "We will be able to deliver every mail to the doorstep of every home and company."

Asked when the new system will be launched, he said he could not speculate on the rollover date as it involves not just the postal administration but also other governmental bodies like the municipality, Ministry of Interior and Civil Defence, besides the Cabinet.

New address system

Al Ashram said the new address system will eventually be linked to geospatial technologies like the global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS). Although he did not divulge details, it is believed that the links will make the task of finding a location by the exact street name or building number easier.

Presently, the lack of such geographical co-ordinates is considered an obstacle to door-to-door delivery services.

Asked if the existing system of PO boxes will be phased out, he said, "The PO box is playing a big role in our society. This is what our postal system has always been and will be for some time. But definitely we are looking at enhancing our services."

He said it is worth noting that countries elsewhere are moving away from delivering mail at the doorstep to putting them in PO boxes in neighbourhood shelters to cut down on manpower and delivery time.

"Demand is changing. The dynamics of the business is changing. We've got to see what is working and what is not and then introduce our services," he said.

On Monday, Emirates Post launched Ezimail, an enhanced mail pick-up and delivery service for corporates with existing PO boxes from January 1. Currently, recipients have to periodically check the PO boxes they have contracted to collect mail.

Although the paid service is for corporates, even individuals who do not wish to make a trip to their PO boxes can get mail delivered at home by subscribing to the service, said Al Ashram, adding that it comes in three packages with several incentives, including free rentals and free mail bags for overflowing mail.

He said Emirates Post has a strength of 1,800 employees across 120 branches but declined to comment on the manpower or network required to cater to the new address system.

Million mails per day

With Christmas and New Year round the corner, Emirates Post has its hands full, catering to more than a million mails per day, as against an average of 600,000 on normal days.

"Daily mail - small and large, local and international - can exceed one million pieces on some days," Ebrahim Al Ras, Main Supervisor at the Emirates Post Mail Sorting Centre at Al Ramoul, told XPRESS.

He said the centre is deploying extra hands across three shifts between 7am and 2am.

He said during the high season, the centre receives around 800-1,000 international mail bags every day, as against 200 to 500 on a normal day. Each of the bags contains around 400 letters, he added. Similarly, the centre caters to an average of 270 international despatches during the festive season as against 70 on a normal day, he said, noting that each despatch contains around 600 parcels.

Engineer Abdullah Khalila Al Gaizi said the centre is fully capable of handling the rush, thanks to two high-tech optical characteristic readers (OCRs), the first of their kind in the Middle East, which sort the mail at the rate of 40,000 letters per hour. This is in addition to manual sorting of letters using video coding readers.