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Bhutan Post – evolving with change

Enabled with technology, the organisation is exploring opportunities in e-commerce

The phone beeps…

“Hello, I am Garp Lungi Khorlo.” The lady from the other end replies, “I, Nyala Duem awaits you”

This is not a prank. It is a jingle played on Radio Valley describing one of the new services called Garp Lungi Khorlo (wheels of wind) that delivers consignments between Thimphu and Mongar.

The narrative of the legendary Garp Lungi Khorlo, the postal runner that is believed to be as swift as the wind, is woven into the advertisement.

In ancient times, postal runners like Garp Lungi Khorlo were the only means to deliver official letters and parcels from one place to another because of their sheer speed. Today Garp Lungi Khorlo, literally, is a Toyota coaster bus. These two anecdotes elucidate the evolution of postage and postal services in the country. The story of Bhutan Postal Corporation began when it started as the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.

This was the initial step taken by the government in the first Plan to provide uniform means of communication throughout the country. Basic services such as letter mail, postcards and parcels were introduced. International mail was only exchanged with India. Mail exchange within Bhutan and with India was transported through a unique mode of transport system, a combination of porters, mules and motor.

Bhutan became a member of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1969 and the Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU) in 1983. The history of postal services in Bhutan is recorded in the postal museum in Thimphu. Officials said that stamps used to be one of the major foreign currency earners for the country between 1960s and 1980s.

Bhutan became one of the first countries to produce 3D and audio stamps themed around events, historic occasions and national identities. “Bhutan was known to the world through stamps back then,” said the head of Bhutan Post’s corporate and international relations division, Tshering Chhokie.

Over the years, services like International Express Mail Service (EMS), money order, and FedEx and Western Union came up.

“With the advent of technology, traditional postal business is dying slowly and Internet and mobile has accelerated mail substitution,” she said.

She said that Bhutan Post need to continue developing innovative technological solutions that modern postal customers demand.

Initiating ideas like Garp Lungi Khorlo is designed to help both rural and urban communities.

As Bhutan Post witnesses an annual increase in courier and parcel services, e-commerce has ballooned opportunities in the field of transportation and delivery of consignments. “Postal administrations around the world have adopted technologies to ensure cross-border transfer of e-commerce items,” she said.

“Bhutan Post is embracing the changes and leveraging advantages of technology to improve and diversify our services. We see Bhutan Post becoming an e-commerce and logistics business player with a high level of ICT use in our service delivery,” Tshering Chhokie said.

While technology comes in handy, it has already impaired the culture of letter writing. The organisation today handles official letters and posts letters and postcards for international visitors.

Bhutan Post visits schools to teach children the art of letter writing and the process thereon. But with easy access to Internet, emails and social media platforms, hand written letters are becoming history.

 

Tshering Dorji

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