Post Office plans to close 80 more branches
The South African Post Office (Sapo) plans to close 80 more of its branches nationwide, CEO Nomkhita Mona said on Wednesday.
Responding to questions at a meeting of the communications portfolio committee, Mona confirmed that the closure of branches has been ongoing for a while.
“Our targeted number of branches to close is 130. This was for a lot of reasons, including a lack of profitability and the fact that there were too many within a short space of each other in terms of radius,” she said.
However, Mona said sometimes they had to respect the current contracts they have with landlords because if they stepped out of it immediately, they were prone to penalties.
“We are doing that in staggered form. The number is 80 to go. The target was 130. We have closed some of those,” she said.
Earlier, Mona told MPs that they reopened 27 branches in May that were closed due to non-payment of rentals.
“We have been engaging in very extensive negotiations with landlords.”
She also said they were now rationalising the number of branches that Sapo has.
“We found that because of a decision taken some years ago to move post offices closer to where the traffic was and in terms of locating in shopping malls, we found that there was a proliferation of branches in terms of numbers within a very short radius.”
Mona said there were instances where up to three post office branches were found within a five-kilometre radius.
“We are taking this also as an opportunity to consolidate and move some branches into one. We will also be communicating that there will be branches we will deliberately be closing down.
“If already closed, we will not renew leases for reasons I have mentioned. There is that work that is happening.”
Mona stressed that they were quite conscious not to close branches in rural areas because distances were vast.
“Where we had branches closed in rural areas, we do all the best we can to reopen them, but mostly the reason we do have them closed is due to crime.”
The turn of events takes place against the backdrop of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies hoping to leverage on the Postbank’s wide foot-print that allows the Post Office to reach every corner of the country and assist the unbanked to participate in the economy.
“In the long run it will contribute to economic growth of the country and also support funding for SMMEs as well as start-ups,” acting director-general Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyan said.
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