Transport contractor settles with Commission and agrees to pay a penalty of R80 000 for alleged cartel conduct
A Mpumalanga-based transport contractor has agreed to pay a penalty of R80 000 for allegedly colluding on a tender issued by the South African Forestry Company SOC Limited (“SAFCOL”) in June 2016, for the transportation of timber saw logs in the Komatiland Forest area.
The agreed penalty forms part of the terms of a consent agreement concluded between PNM Shorthauliers (Pty) Ltd (“PNM”) and the Competition Commission (“the Commission”). The Tribunal has confirmed the consent agreement as an order.
In addition to the penalty, PNM has agreed to implement a competition law compliance programme and has undertaken to refrain from engaging in conduct in contravention of the Competition Act (“the Act”) in future.
Although PNM has agreed to the terms of the consent agreement, it does not admit that it contravened the Act, as alleged by the Commission. The Commission has agreed to enter into the consent agreement without an admission of liability by PNM, based on the following factors, among others, and considering the remedies contained in the consent agreement:
- PNM is a small firm;
- PNM did not win the tender in question; and
- PNM is a first-time offender and has never contravened the Act before.
In November 2016, the Commission received a complaint from SAFCOL alleging that PNM, MM Simelane Transport CC (“Simelane Transport”) and Tingodvo Transport CC may have colluded when bidding for the tender.
The tender was for transporting timber saw logs in the Komatiland Forest area which is divided into three areas: North Hub (Makhado, Thathe Vondo and Tzaneen District); Central Hub (Graskop, Sabie and Nelspruit); and Highveld Hub (Mpumalanga Highveld).
The Commission’s investigation found that PNM and Simelane Transport agreed that the former would only bid for the Highveld Hub area while the latter would bid for the North Hub area. According to the Commission, PNM also assisted Simelane Transport in the completion of its tender documents.
The Commission concluded that this conduct amounted to market division and collusive tendering, in contravention of sections 4(1)(b)(ii) and (iii) of the Act.
Gillian de Gouveia, Communications Officer
On behalf of the Competition Tribunal of South Africa
Cell: +27 (0) 82 410 1195
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