Communications Minister Alex White has defended Eircode, estimated to cost between €38m and €50m, after An Post said fewer than one in 10 letters and parcels use the new postcode.
An Post yesterday told RTÉ it believed that Eircode was in “single-digit usage in percentage terms”, however a spokesperson for the postal service said that it was not monitoring usage and that the figure it has provided is an estimate.
Speaking yesterday with Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1, Mr White conceded that integrating the postcode system with Google Maps and satellite navigation systems “didn’t happen quickly enough”, but he said he was confident use would increase with increased functionality.
“I believe this will pick up, it absolutely will pick up when people see a value to it,” he said.
“One of the problems that we have had, or one of the things that have delayed it has been the Sat-Navs and the Googles and trying to get it into their systems and that is pretty much complete now. I would expect those licences to be signed off under the next few weeks.”
Last September, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy estimated that the introduction of the postcode cost the State €38m and concluded that “it is not clear that benefits to the value projected will be achieved as a result of the implementation of Eircode”.
He also cast doubt over the cost-benefit analysis used to justify the expense of the system, adding there was “insufficient documentation to fully support many of the assumptions used in the projections”.
Mr White contested the suggestion the overall cost of Eircode will be closer to €50m when the expense to other state bodies is taken into account, and defended the overall spend.
“Certainly there is a cost here, and I don’t doubt that there’s a cost, but I think it is a very, very worthwhile investment for this country, a critical piece of public infrastructure,” he said.
Mr White again defended Eircode’s non-sequential design, and said that criticism of the randomised nature of the code was “misplaced”. Courier companies had criticised the fact that adjacent properties will not have similar Eircodes, and said that this would mean that delivery staff could not use the code by sight to find houses.
“It’s the opposite to a flaw, it’s actually an advantage. If you have a sequenced system, and you build a new house in between two, you’ve got to actually re-do all the Eircodes for that sequence of houses. In this situation you won’t have to do it,” he said.
“You have loads of non-unique addresses right across the country, you don’t need to have them sequenced.
“I think it is a very good system, I think it will work very well, but it is going to take some time,” he said.
Mr White also said that the ambulance service would be equipped and ready to use Eircodes by the end of the month.
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