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Robben Island boat operators fined for collusion and price-fixing

One of the Robben Island Ferry's in a forecourt at an industrial building in Paarden Island, Cape Town.
One of the Robben Island Ferry's in a forecourt at an industrial building in Paarden Island, Cape Town.

A meeting at the Cape Town Fish Market restaurant culminated in boat operators inflating their prices for trips to Robben Island. Now they’ve been served with fines for their collusion‚ according to the Competition Tribunal.

The tribunal said in a statement that an investigation by the Competition Commission was instituted after a complaint from the Robben Island Museum. Five companies who allegedly colluded on a tender were identified.

“The commission’s investigation found that around 22 September 2015‚ the respondents met at the Cape Town Fish Market Coffee Shop where they discussed increasing 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 provider for a 12-month period.

“Subsequent to the meeting Thembekile and Nauticat Charters increased their prices to R18‚000 per trip for 140 passengers. Ferry Charters did not alter its price as it was already charging R18‚000 per trip for 140 passengers and this resulted in all three quoting the same price. Silverbuckle increased its price per trip from R7‚750 to R8‚775 for a 65-passenger vessel.”

The commission referred the complaint to the tribunal for adjudication. The three firms‚ as part of their settlement‚ agreed to cease the conduct and to assist the commission with its investigation.

The Competition Tribunal confirmed settlement agreements with: Thembekile Maritime Service (penalty R350‚000); Silverbuckle Trade 21 CC t/a Yacoob Yatch (penalty R249‚171); and Nauticat Charters (penalty R422.087).

The fines are all less than 10% of the firms’ annual turnover.

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