Postal service providers in court fight over 1kg package deliveries
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Pretoria - The SA Post Office, PostNet and SA Express Parcel Association are set to square off in court later this year regarding the delivery of packages weighing 1kg and less.
The Post Office said it was the only entity licensed in terms of the Postal Services Act to courier these packages.
PostNet earlier rushed to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, where it secured an urgent order to put a ruling on hold which would have prohibited the franchise from further couriering any package weighing a kilogram or less.
This was pending the legal wrangle between the parties due to be heard by the high court in Pretoria, on a date still to be announced.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) earlier informed PostNet that from March 17 last year, it may no longer courier reserved postal services, as it did not carry a licence to do so.
PostNet, however, at the time secured an order allowing it to continue transporting these small parcels pending the outcome of the review proceedings.
Icasa acted on a recommendation by the Complaints and Compliance Committee following a grievance lodged by the Post Office about PostNet also offering reserved postal services to the public.
PostNet indicated that it would take Icasa’s decision on review.
PostNet said in court papers issued during its earlier urgent application, that the Post Office had for long struggled to meet market demands, thus private entities such as PostNet stepped in.
They said that if they were stopped from transporting these packages, they would also have to stop providing courier services regarding small items such as bank cards, books and cellphones.
They added that this would also apply to all other courier companies such as DHL and FedEx, as the Post Office claimed it was the only entity licensed to courier these items on a daily basis.
PostNet said it could not understand that it had for many years provided these services without problems.
Peter Harvey, managing director of DPO South Africa, a payment services provider, serving e-commerce businesses such as Takealot, said that placing limitations on who could handle smaller packages could have a very negative impact not only on the local logistics sector, but also the budding sector.
He commented that there was a strong argument for a robust, well-funded and effective Post Office.
“However, in the absence of that, we must ensure that the private sector is allowed to fill the gap. We work with tens of thousands of e-commerce companies, many of which are small businesses that have sprung up as a result of Covid shutdowns.”
Harvey said these smaller businesses, already dealing with the complexities of competing against larger, and even international companies, relied on their courier partners to ensure reliable, secure and fast delivery.
According to him, placing limitations on who can handle smaller packages will not only negatively impact the local logistics sector, but could very well have a negative impact on the budding e-commerce sector.
“In our opinion, the government should work hard on improving the state of the SA Post Office and then allow it to compete against the private sector based on service and price, rather than relying on anti-competitive regulations to secure its future,” Harvey said.