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Resident Commissioner questions USPS about theft in Puerto Rico

By on October 25, 2017

SAN JUAN – The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) was asked by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González about claims made by dozens of Puerto Ricans regarding problems with sending and receiving mail after Hurricane Maria more than one month.

In a telephone conversation with USPS Government Relations Representative Zahava Colichelli, the resident commissioner questioned the agency’s handling of the number of complaints lodged about open packages as well as delayed, undelivered or lost mail.

The USPS inspector in Puerto Rico attributes the delivery problem to a lack of electric service and personnel. (iStock)

“The postal service representative explained that the number of deliveries from and to Puerto Rico that are being received after the hurricane is unprecedented and they don’t have enough staff to handle this volume of work,” González said in an interview with Caribbean Business.

The commissioner said Colichelli indicated that additional staff are being recruited by asking postal service employees who have family in Puerto Rico but work in other states to request a temporary transfer to help with the emergency

Colichelli is in charge of liaising with government agencies in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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“I asked her to inform me in writing of the measures they are taking to address the situation,” González said. The commissioner also requested information on how many employees the USPS has in Puerto Rico and how many have been affected by the hurricane; on the measures they have taken to deal with logistics and personnel problems; and those they will take prospectively.

On Sept. 27, the USPS office in San Juan announced a limites reinitiation of its operations, but only for the delivery of PO box mail and collecting mail addressed to residences.

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In a WKAQ 580 radio interview, the Puerto Rico Postal Service inspector, Eliezer Julián, attributed the problem with deliveries to the lack of electric power and personnel.

“The mail, like any other company or institution in Puerto Rico, is sharing the hardship caused by the hurricane. We were not operating a a few days due to a lack of electricity, until we were able to install a generator. This has put us back a few days with the mail we had in [Puerto Rico],” the official said.

Julián said that to address the matter, 100 temporary employees were being hired, and stateside postal workers and inspectors have been transferred to the island, but he did not provide a specific number. He also indicated that some 100 post offices are operating partially. Some of these are not delivering mail house by house. The official rejected the allegations about the theft of packages.

“Many of these allegations the public is making…are because that package is too heavy,” breaks apart and its contents fall out, Julián explained. When that happens, he added, employees try to reassemble the package and that is what is causing the concerns.

In early October, the Postal Inspection Service reported that an employee of a private company subcontracted by the USPS was arrested in relation to mail theft on then island .

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