VIDEO: Telegram service suspended from Oct 31
August 29, 2013 03:55 pm
The telegram service in Sri Lanka will be discontinued from October 31st, Minister of Telecommunication & Information Technology Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told Ada Derana. Earlier this year officials claimed that it handles just 50 telegrams a day.
Transmitting telegrams using a network of postal messengers across the country was too expensive, postal ministry secretary Hemasiri Fernando said on June 9, adding that they could not compete with phones and text messages for speed.
“It is too costly. Telegrams have competition from email, courier and SMS (short message services) on mobile phones,” Fernando said.
The department charges three rupees ($0.03) for a telegram of 10 words while it cost the postal department 250 rupees ($2.29) to transmit it to the recipient, Fernando said.
“These prices are not sustainable,” he added.
Some telegrams are still sent by parliamentarians and businesses to contact people in very remote locations, he said, but the demand is a fraction of its height in colonial times when it was a key form of communication.
As late as the 1990s, most employers informed applicants of success in securing jobs through a telegram while hospitals and police also used the service to inform next-of-kin of deaths and accidents of loved ones.
Provincial correspondents of newspapers also used telegrams to send their news reports to offices in the capital.
Fernando said postal jobs will not be cut with the end of the telegram, but the 1,300 staff will be redeployed for other duties within the postal department which made a loss of three billion rupees ($27.5 million) last year.
A few years ago, the post office stopped issuing “postal orders”, a way of sending money by post, as they faced stiff competition from faster and more secure bank wire transfers.
Sri Lanka Post is the oldest government department, set up by colonial Dutch rulers in 1798.
The British, who ousted the Dutch, later expanded the service across the island using horse-drawn coaches to deliver mail.