Sierra Leone's Leading Postal Service

The history of the Sierra Leone Postal Service started as far back as 1841 during the period of Jerome who established a village Post Office. The office of Postmaster of Packet Agent as the professional head of the Postal Services was instituted in 1843, an office held by a clerk of the Commonwealth Secretariat at a salary of Le50 per annum paid from the British Treasury. The post of full time Postmaster came into being in 1857 and Isaac Fitzjohn from Gloucester Village in the outskirt of Freetown was appointed to the position in 1858. The first General Post Office at Gloucester Street in Freetown was established in 1853. During that time letters were paid for by the recipient i.e. the addressee and not the sender. It was not until 1859 when it became compulsory to prepay by postage stamp which was in the form of a dull purple six penny denomination with the effigy of the Queen’s head produced by Thomas de la Rue and was printed on white paper. Regular mail steamer from England to the Cape started to call in Freetown in 1951 at the Government Wharf which was the only seaport.

To promote and facilitate imports from England, the British Money Order was introduced in 1865 so that petty traders as well as business merchants could take advantage of ordering and receiving their goods regularly on the monthly mail steamer. Another area of development was the Post Office Savings Bank which was inaugurated in 1871 under the able leadership of the then Postmaster – Mr. Hastings-Spaine.

A new wing was added to the old General Post Office Building in 1890 and in 1963 the present General Post Office Building was completed. This development was in itself a new era of Progress in the Postal Business of the country as well as customer services.

It is abundantly clear that since the inception of the Post Office the nation has benefited tremendously. The impact of postal activities through social and economic development of the country can be considered to be significant. In the early days when communication was slow international mails were conveyed by steamer once every month. Local mails were handled through other channels, i.e. train, public transportation or foot -2- messengers. Today transportation system has undergone a remarkable development and trafficking of most mail items by air crafts became the norm since early 1960 leaving only certain classes of mails to be conveyed by sea.

Just as the system of payment for letters has envolved so also has the British Money Order Service presently referred to as the international Money Order. This change was a most welcome introduction as it attracted varied financial transactions conducted by institutions and individuals. As the business grew revenue generated to the coffers of the Department increased. Unfortunately, however, this lucrative venture had to be withdrawn in the late 1970’s It is fervently hoped that Management would do all that possible to reintroduce the service within the foreseeable future, to promote business transactions and to safeguard transfer of currency from one point to another.

On the 14th February 1990 The Post Office became a solely owned Government Parastatal, The Sierra Leone Postal Services (Limited), enjoying a corporate status as a Limited Liability Company under Cap 249 of the laws of Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone Postal Services is a member of the Universal Postal Union, the Umbrella union of the postal services world wide. This union was founded in 1874 in Berne Switzerland and establishing a collective convention governing the International Postal Services. It is a specialized agency of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

SALPOST is also a member of the PANAFRICAN POSTAL UNION (PAPU) which links all African Postal Services together.