Postcode plan will not deliver, say parcel companies
THE country's new postcode system is set to be shunned by major parcel delivery companies, an industry body has warned.
The Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI), which represents 200 freight, passenger and parcel businesses including global giants such as FedEx and UPS, warned that Eircode is unlikely to be used widely by its members when it is introduced next year.
The revelation is a major setback for the Government's much-vaunted postcode plan, which has been in development for several years.
It aims to have Eircode in place by next spring. It is expected to cost the taxpayer €24m to implement over 10 years.
FTAI general manager Neil McDonnell said that while the new system will be useful to state agencies such as the Revenue Commissioners and Irish Water, it has little to offer parcel delivery firms.
Under the Eircode plan, 2.2 million addresses will be assigned a seven-digit code.
The first three digits will be a routing key, which will be shared by many properties in the same area, which is aimed at helping the sorting of mail.
But the last four digits in each code will be random, meaning they will not be sequential for homes which are side by side.
This system differs from other countries, where postcodes define clusters of addresses.
"The fact that the unique identifier for each property has no geo-relationship with the property next door means that it is useless for the purpose of navigation, planning and routing," said Mr McDonnell.
He said that operators would be offered Eircode files with latitude and longitude coordinates to purchase for a minimum price of €5,000, but there would be no incentive to buy them.
"Companies are all using their own systems. They can get to your house now using whatever proprietary system they are already using. So there is no incentive for operators to buy it," he said.
However, Capita Ireland, which secured the contract to manage Eircode, said it was surprised by the FTAI's comments, as it had previously received a generally good reception from the industry.
Liam Duggan, business development director of Capita Ireland, also disputed the €5,000 figure quoted by Mr McDonnell.
He said no price had been fixed and that there would be three options available to businesses wishing to purchase Eircode database information.
"None of these prices have been settled upon yet," said Mr Duggan.
"The reality is it is not mandatory to use Eircode, so if they don't want to use it they don't have to. But I would question whether the products they have work in the same way; 35pc of addresses in Ireland are non-unique."
The Government has previously defended Eircode, stating it would bring Ireland in line with international norms and make it easier for the emergency services to locate people.
Former Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said it would also make the collection of taxes and water charges easier.