Monday, 5 June 2017

SOUTH AFRICA: Ferry Operators To Be Charged For Price-fixing And Collusive Tendering

Five companies operating ferries to Robben Island Museum, Western Cape, have been referred to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution on charges of price fixing and collusive tendering.

The five ferry operators being charged are: Thembekile Maritime Services (Pty) Ltd (Thembekile); Silverbuckle Trade 21 CC t/a Yacoob Yatch (Silverbuckle); Nauticat Charters (Pty) Ltd (Nauticat Charters); Ferry Charters (Pty) Ltd (Ferry Charters); and Tigger 2 Charters (Pty) Ltd (Tigger 2 Charters). The commission launched an investigation after RIM lodged a complaint.

The investigation by the Commission found that the companies met in September, 2015, where they discussed and agreed to an increase in the prices they would charge the Museum when responding to a tender it issued. The tender was for the various bidders to be listed on the Museum’s database as preferred service providers for a period of 12 months. Pricing was fixed at around R18 000 per trip subsequently.

The Commission said this conduct constitutes price fixing and collusive tendering in contravention of the Competition Act and it has since referred the complaint to the Tribunal for adjudication.

The Commission is seeking an order from the Tribunal declaring that the five respondents have contravened the Competition Act and that they are liable to pay an administrative penalty equal to 10% of their annual turnover.

The Competition Tribunal confirmed that the matter has been filed, although a date has not been set for the hearing. The parties have been given time to submit their response

Robben Island Museums’ Marketing and Tourism Manager, Bongiwe Nzeku told Tourism Update RIM’s financial department registered the complaint.

Nzeku, said while the price fixing hadn’t hurt tourism, RIM was unhappy about the price-fixing and collusive tendering by the ferry operators, stating that it was a matter of principal.

Tourism Update reached out to the ferry operators, but those who took calls declined to comment because a legal process is underway.

Section 4 of the Competition Act clearly prohibits certain agreements between practices by competing firms. The law treats both price-fixing and collusive tendering as illegal, prohibited by section 4(1)(b) of the act.

Meanwhile, Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, Western Cape was damaged by a fire, on May 28.

The fire began in the heart of the hotel, affecting the hotel reception, restaurant, lounge, bar and staff offices. No harm was caused to guests or staff, and the Manor house, wine cellar as well as vineyards were unaffected.

The estate is closed to the public until further notice.