Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Essential services hit a snag with lockdown website registrations

By Yolisa Tswanya Time of article published Mar 27, 2020

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Cape Town – Some businesses said they were unable to apply to register as an essential service on the Department of Trade and Industry’s website, which crashed intermittently yesterday.

The site crashed as businesses flooded in to register before the official lockdown started.

By yesterday afternoon the department said more than 10 000 companies had already registered as providers of essential goods and services. Most of these have been in food supply, medical and pharmaceutical services and transport services.

They added that the system was now running with full functionality.

“We ask that companies be patient through the registration process, as there are large volumes presently being experienced.

“No companies will be prejudiced by any delay in the system. The service will continue to run tomorrow (Friday) and beyond, and it is not a requirement that companies complete registration before the lockdown begins.”

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said that businesses providing essential services would need to get approval from his department to be able to operate over the 21-day lockdown period.

Business were required to register on the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website at www.bizportal.gov.za, and obtain a certificate from the commission that allows them to continue trading.

“The application will be a simple declaration requiring minimal registration details; type of business/ trade involved in; what trading name if any is used; and whether it meets the requirements contained in the list of the essential services; the contact details of the person applying; as well as the number of employees who will be working during the lockdown period,” Patel said in a statement.

He said the CIPC registry will then pre-populate the remaining company information, and email a certificate stating that the business is allowed to remain open to trade.

“The certificate can then be used as evidence to authorities requiring proof of compliance that indeed the business has been given government permission to trade, and that its employees are able to have unrestricted movement only in the course of that trade.”

He also said that those who make a false application to the CIPC and are indeed not an essential service as per the government regulations, would be taken as a fraudulent application and result in criminal prosecution and sanction.

Repeated attempts to obtain comment from the department on the site being down yesterday, were unsuccessful.

Chief executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (Neasa) Gerhard Papenfus meanwhile said aside from the site not working, there was incorrect information reflected on it.

“The portal has not been functional at any stage and even if it can be accessed, company registration numbers are reflected as incorrect.

“It is absolutely mind boggling that the government compels essential services businesses to register on a website in order to continue essential services that are required to keep the country afloat during the lockdown, but it does not provide an effective mechanism for them to do so.”

He expressed concern at the inability to provide the means for essential services to comply with the regulations and which the government would be enforcing.

Cape Times

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