Interview with Ramesh Kumar Katuwal, Nepal Post

Nepal Post is currently struggling through a second wave of COVID-19. The PPE remains lacking. There is a need at the operator to help protect its over 16,000 employees, including more than 6,200 people working at the post’s approximately 4,000 post offices.

Nepal was one of 36 countries to receive masks from a joint UPU Development and Cooperation Directorate and UNOPS program called COVID-PPE.
“On behalf of Nepal Post, I would like to thank UPU for its effort to support the improvement of postal services,” said Ramesh Kumar Katuwal, Section Officer. “I personally appreciate the effort and dedication of UPU and the team for your effort to ensure the operation of the global postal supply chain during COVID-19.”
Still the need is high for the things that will keep Nepal Post’s workers and customers safe.
“We need the PPE, hand sanitizer, face shield, N95 masks, health safety measures equipment,” Katuwal said. “I would like to suggest UPU to provide COVID-19 vaccine for the staffs working at the Air Mail Unit and General Post Office.”
The need for PPE is part of Nepal Post’s larger story of the damage the pandemic has inflicted on its operations.
Outbound mail was suspended for much of 2020, and it lost about 60 percent of its revenue, Katuwal said. The post is still waiting for Thai Airways, the post’s main international mail carrier, to resume its services to Kathmandu.
Additionally, the post has few delivery vehicles, so it relies on public transportation for mail delivery; however this service was affected during the national lockdown.
“It is still quite a hard time for us to retain our customers and goodwill in the new `normal situation,`” he said.
The most difficult thing was to ensure safety and security of postal personnel and continuity of the distribution channels.
For safety and security of the postal staff, Nepal Post adopted several health measures, including the use of a thermometer gun on post office premises, encouraging hand washing with water and soap or hand sanitizer, and quarantining postal items and bags for 24 hours before handling them. The operator also practiced social distancing, personal protective equipment use, and the use of face-masks provided through the COVID-PPE project.
“We did the same as WHO, national health personnel and government had urged to do for health safety and security,” Katuwal said.
The post created a plan to work with a limited number of essential staff, and the rest of the staff worked from home. The post provided PPE for the staff working at front line delivery and staffs at the General Post Office.
“The approach UPU adopted to cope with the pandemic and joining hand-in-hand with DOs concerning the health and safety of postal staff was admirable,” Katuwal said. The post requested N95 masks, face shields, gowns and sanitizer and were able to receive 32,500 masks through the COVID-PPE project.
The project could be further developed, he said, if there were enough time to conduct a need analysis survey and ensure both the timely delivery and proper distribution of PPE items.