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Robben Island ferries charged with price fixing

One of the Robben Island Ferry's in an forecourt an industrial building in Paarden Island, Cape Town . PIC: HALDEN KROG. © Sunday Times
One of the Robben Island Ferry's in an forecourt an industrial building in Paarden Island, Cape Town . PIC: HALDEN KROG. © Sunday Times

Five vessel owners who ferry passengers between the Robben Island Museum and the V& A Waterfront in Cape Town have been referred to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution on charges of price fixing and collusive tendering.

This follows an investigation by the Competition Commission‚ after it received a complaint from the Robben Island Museum regarding 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 respondents met in September 2015 at the Cape Town Fish Market Coffee Shop to discuss prices they would charge the museum after a tender was 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 commission’s investigation also found that:

•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; and

•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.

 “This conduct 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.

“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.”

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