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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Restored GPO Set to Open

Restored GPO Set to Open

Renovation work on the central post office, long a symbol of Cambodia's dilapidated

mail service is expected to be completed by the end of May.

The new post ofThe restoration work on the 104-year old French-styled building began

in Aug. 1992 and by the time it is finished will have cost U.S. $186,757 (125 million

riel).

Prum Sontha, Deputy Director of post and telecommunications said the project, which

is part of a larger revamp of Cambodia's mailing service will enable the agency to

compete with the myriad of private operators offering mail services.

Cambodia's postal service was abandoned during the Khmer Rouge years and taken over

by the Vietnamese after they invaded

in 1979.

All mail was processed through Ho Chi Minh City and outgoing mail often took more

than a month to reach its destination.

Cambodia took over the mail service in 1991 and delivery time was down to less than

four weeks but mail was regularly opened and checked by security officials.

Prum said postal officials do not have the right to open personal mail but admitted

the agency has cooperated with the Security Ministry in the past.

"I have suggested to the government that they should take measures to protect

mail as this would also improve the system," he said.

Prum said the ministry recognized the service was still inadequate and in late 1992

struck a deal with Thai International Airways to provide speedier service.

Currently the post office is shipping out 600kg of mail every two days and taking

delivery of in-coming mail six days a week.

Prum said most organizations with operations in Cambodia have postal addresses in

Bangkok and bring mail into the country by courier or messenger. He said this coupled

with the private operators had caused the agency to suffer considerable revenue.

Prum said all private mailing services in Cambodia need to be registered by the Cambodian

post office.

Earnings from the mailing service however add up to only 10 per cent of the agency's

revenues which totalled12,155,824,448 riels last year. The bulk came from its telecommunications

division.

Two satellite dishes installed when the former Soviet Union was providing aid to

the State of Cambodia have fallen into disrepair and now can only be used to transmit

pictures.

The postal agency has entered into a joint venture with Australian telecommunications

company Telstra OTC, which will invest U.S. $700,000 in a satellite based system.

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