The Freight Transport Association of Ireland, yesterday said neither the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources nor the Eircode consortium have met its members’ long-held concerns over the postcode.
In a letter to Communications Minister Alex White — a copy of which was sent to members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications — the association said it is concerned the tender for overseeing an evaluation of the postcode to ensure it is fit for purpose has been awarded to PA Consultants. This is the company that also advised the Government on the postcode’s introduction.
“We would view the matter as a significant departure from the norms of public tendering and an unacceptable conflict of interest, especially in view of the fact that the EU Commission has previously commented negatively on the postcode procurement process,” the letter from the association read.
“The Freight Transport Association of Ireland now appeals to you to ensure that your department immediately confirms its willingness to subject Eircode to robust, independent scrutiny,” the letter continued.
“In view of the fact that it is almost one year since your department published this request for tender, and in default of confirmation from your department, by 5pm on 12th December 2014, of its willingness to apply independent scrutiny to Eircode per your department’s tender or December 2013, The Freight Transport Association of Ireland will have no option but to refer the matter to the ombudsman,” it concluded.
Eircode proposes a seven- digit postcode for every address. While the first three digits will refer to a wider geographical region, thefinal four identify unique addresses and are randomised. This means the codes for adjacent addresses will bear no relation to each other.
The association has long maintained that the nature of the code renders it useless to its members, as the code does little to help drivers locate smaller clusters of addresses for deliveries.
Association manager Neil McDonnell yesterday said multinational delivery companies are also concerned about the demands Eircode will place on their IT systems. Mr McDonnell said because Eircode identifies randomised unique addresses instead of areas, delivery companies would be required to store 2.2 million addresses on its databases.
“We have members who operate in over 100 countries who have a total postcode range of 3.4 million codes. Ireland alone would demand 2.2m codes. The database on offer is too large for global system and would require the equivalent of 40% of a company’s global postcode database,” he said.