Boat operators face price fixing charges

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pretoria - Five vessel owners, who ferry passengers between Robben Island Museum and the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, are facing prosecution on charges of price fixing and collusive tendering.

The Competition Commission of South Africa investigated the boat operators after it received a complaint from the Robben Island Museum against the five respondents.

They are all vessels owners, who provide chartering services to the museum’s clients from the V&A Waterfront to Robben Island and vice versa.

An investigation into the matter found that the respondents met in September 2015 at the Cape Town Fish Market Coffee Shop. They discussed and agreed to increase the prices they would charge the Museum when responding to a tender it issued.

The tender was for bidders to be listed on the Museum’s database as a preferred service providers for a 12-month period.

The operators who are implicated in this matter include, 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’s investigation also found that subsequent to the agreement reached at the coffee shop meeting, Thembekile and Nauticat Charters increased their prices to R18 000 per trip for 140 passengers.

“Ferry Charters did not alter their prices, as it was already charging R18 000 per trip for 140 passengers and this resulted in all three quoting the same price of R18 000 for per trip for 140 passengers.

“[Furthermore] Silverbuckle and Tigger 2 Charters also increased their prices as agreed during the coffee shop meeting, but not to the same extent as that of the other respondents as their vessels are smaller,” the Competition Commission said.

Their behaviour constitutes price fixing and collusive tendering, in contravention of the Competition Act and the Commission has referred the complaint to the Tribunal for adjudication.

The Commission said it 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. –

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