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Johannesburg - An eight-year delay by the Airports Company of SA (Acsa) to issue a tender for metered taxi and shuttle service operators at the OR Tambo International Airport has caused a turf war between
The fighting at the airport involves insults, angry accusations and shaken fists, but the dispute’s intensity has been growing in recent months after the Competition Commission ruled that Acsa was promoting uncompetitive business.
Malesela Selepe, secretary of Sisonke Shuttle Services, which lodged the complaint against Acsa in 2009, said his members were forced out of business by Acsa which refuses to recognise them and prohibited their operation despite being compliant with the law.
Sisonke submitted documents to the commission arguing that metered taxis were given exclusive access to operate at OR Tambo since 2004, preventing competition between metered and shuttle services.
“Metered taxi and shuttle services operators are required by law to operate for contracted services with Acsa through the authority of a permit or operating licence,” said Selepe.
“Most of our members have met this requirement but Acsa has continued to renew a contract with metered taxis only on a monthly basis for the past eight years. Our members have been prohibited from competing with the metered taxis on the information desk area of the airport.”
In May, the commission found that Acsa was contravening the Competition’s Act by entering into an agreement with the metered taxi from 1999 until 2005 when the last contract to operate at the airport lapsed.
The commission said the exclusive agreement between Acsa and the OR Tambo Airport Taxi Association led to a substantially lessening and or prevention of competition.
“No pro-competitive or efficiency grounds that outweighs the anti-competitive effects were shown,” it found.
Attempts to get comment from the metered taxi association this week were unsuccessful.
However, one metered taxi owner, who did not want to be named, said the commission’s agreement was problematic for them too.
He said business for metered taxis had declined and that allowing shuttles at the airport had placed many metered taxis out of business.
“It’s a big problem,” he said. “For us, this is all we have to put bread on the table. This is taking food out of our mouths.”
Selepe claimed that several letters requesting that Acsa resolves the impasse, which has caused tension between the metered taxi and shuttle services, had fallen on deaf ears.
Some shuttle drivers said a raging turf war has moved from the dark alleys of parking lots at taxi zones to the terminals and the streets.
Acsa spokeswoman Unathi Batyashe-Fillis said, according to the agreement with the commission, the company will issue a new tender invitation to appoint meter taxi service operators at the airport.
“Until this process is finalised, anyone operating within the airport precinct without a valid permit will be committing an illegal offence in terms of the National Road Traffic Act,” she said.
The commission has given Acsa until November to issue a new tender or at least invitation to tender for the provision of metered and shuttle services at the airport.
However, spokesman for Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, Octavia Mamabolo, said both the taxis and shuttles have authority to operate from the airport according to conditions of their permits.
“The competition tribunal is handling this matter and will provide a resolution thereto.”