Western District Post Office a disaster waiting to happen, say pensioners

Senior staff reporter

Friday, November 22, 2019

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Pensioners who frequent the Western District Post Office on Molynes Road in St Andrew have described the Government-run facility as a disaster waiting to happen.

The run-down building, coupled with its water-damaged roof, has been the subject of scrutiny for pensioners and their family members who told the Jamaica Observer that for years they have suffered at the branch whenever there is a considerable downpour.

At least five containers were placed on the floor to collect drippings from the water-logged roof, which showed signs that it was past its usefulness and devoid of material in several areas when the Observer arrived.

Former Jamaica Constabulary Force officer Ionie Ramsay, who collects her pension at the post office, expressed concern over the state of the building, arguing that elderly customers are at risk of getting hurt.

Customers are reportedly forced to choose between standing in puddles to conduct business and hopscotching around problem areas.

“This has been a long-time thing. They had fixed it before and then it just happened again... For me, my main concern is a lot of physically and visually impaired pensioners [who] are weak come to the place. When you see them come in the place they literally have to skip the water. It breaks my heart. I've never been around the staff side but a couple of times I've looked across and I don't think the condition is much better for them,” Ramsay volunteered in an interview with the Observer.

“What bothers me is that it has been like this for a long time, and although I have confidence in the postmaster and I know that this time they are going to try to do something to remedy this long-time defect once and for all, I think they should give them as a Christmas present. Find the money from somewhere and fix up the place,” she said.

“For people like me who don't have severe challenges, we're good, but I think about the old people, and some of them the pension is so small that they come to collect and they depend on it. What if one of them drop in there, God forbid! The next 50 years them nuh get nothing,” Ramsay added.

The retired cop referenced the Liguanea and Constant Spring post offices in St Andrew, in claiming discrimination as the reason for the lack of attention given to the Western District Post Office, sandwiched by the Hughenden and Maverly communities.

“I want to go take out my bedroom set and put it inside the reception area of the Constant Spring Post Office. I want to take over that public space because of how lovely it is. It just goes to show that the same type of attention that is shown in the areas where you find certain class of people living is not the same attention they pay to down there (Western District Post Office),” Ramsay stated, adding that the place is less than ideal, also, for staff whom she described as “cordial”.

The post office currently serves hundreds of people from more than a dozen communities.

Venise Gordon, who accompanied her 75-year-old mother Cynthia to collect her pension, blamed “really poor maintenance” for the state of the facility.

Gordon said the condition got particularly worse over the last month and a half, with the increase in showers across the island.

“The whole of the place wet up when rain fall. Inside here is a river. She (mother) is not a straight walker, so I have to be struggling to stay as far from it as possible so that she don't slide and stuff like that,” Gordon told the Observer.

“Is years it stay so, but because we wasn't getting any rain people forget about it. Now that it raining like hell wi suffering. It's not nice at all, especially when the place is crowded. That cause dispute too, because you have some people, even though you tell them to excuse you they won't move because they either think you are going to cut in front of them or they don't want to have to stand in the water. I think it's full time now they do something about it or people going to get injured. The time not dry again,” Gordon explained.

A man, who gave his name only as Alton, rebuked the authorities, insisting that the matter was not yet addressed because the post office is not located in a “big” area.

“Video and tek picture. Them fi shame. Yuh think a now in yah tun on like pipe? Di only thing lef' fi wi do a tek off wi clothes and swim. Nuh weh uptown nuh look suh. A nuh big area, suh man weh can do something 'bout it naah do it. A time now fi them sort it. Government find money fi do other things, suh come fix this,” the man declared.

Staff at the facility declined to share their experience, insisting that they were not authorised to speak with the press.

Postmaster Ricardo Mott, in the meantime, only commented that “the matter has been reported to the relevant persons”.

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