The 157 year-old telegram service in Sri Lanka will come to a stop from the end of October this year, Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya announced today.
Minister Siyambalapitiya told a media briefing that the telegram service was virtually redundant due to technological developments in communication modes, particularly mobile phones and the internet. Throughout the past seven years, telegram service users had declined sharply and as a result, we have made a decision to permanently halt the telegram service,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that even during the conflict period, between 2005 – 2010 Sri Lankan telecommunication sectors developed by leaps and bounds. “The usage of lan lines developed from just 1,244,000 in 2005 to 3,449,000 by 2012. The number of mobile phones increased from 3,362,000 upto 20,324,000 by the end of 2012. With such a sharp development in electronic communications, we believed it was time to put a stop to the telegram service and mark another step forward in our communications sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Postmaster General W. A. G. Wickramasinghe who also spoke at the media briefing yesterday stated that during the past few years, unlike during the days of yore when telegrams were used to convey important messages, the service is mostly used by state sector officials to inform absence from work.
“The service at present costs about Rs. 250 per telegram to the Postal Service Department and the number of telegrams sent per year has decreased from 2,998,226 in 2007 up to 1,683,156 by 2012. This year it has decrease furthermore with the total number of telegrams sent since January until end of July being only 838, 038,” he explained.
He also added that even though the telegram service is terminated, the 1271 officials who are employed in the service will not be inconvenienced and would be absorbed into the postal service with a promotion as postmen.
Mr. Wickramasinghe also added that terminating the telegram service will not result in any inconveniences to government sector establishments or officials even though until now, telegrams were traditionally used as the main method of message conveyance. “We introduced a new service named ‘telemail’ in 2002 which was similar to the telegram service. So in the absence of the telegram service, the telemail service can be used instead to convey messages by government sector officials,” he added. (LP)