AVIS TO WITH­DRAW GOVT FLEET

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

Avis Fleet ser­vices has given gov­ern­ment un­til to­mor­row to pay its long­stand­ing debt fail­ing which the com­pany says it would with­draw its ser­vices with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

Although the Le­sotho Times could not im­me­di­ately es­tab­lish ex­actly how much gov­ern­ment owes the com­pany, which sup­plies it with all its ve­hi­cles and also main­tains the fleet, sources privy to the mat­ter put the fig­ure at “around M60 mil­lion”.

Avis says the debt dates back “five to six months” and de­spite meet­ing with Fi­nance Min­is­ter ‘Mam­phono Khaketla and Fi­nance Prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary (Ps) ‘Ma­palesa Ra­papa on two oc­ca­sions last month over the is­sue, gov­ern­ment had not met its obli­ga­tion hence the three-day ul­ti­ma­tum the com­pany is­sued this week.

A let­ter writ­ten by Coun­try Man­ager Keith Dell dated 4 Au­gust 2015, and ad­dressed to Dr Khaketla, ex­presses Avis’ frus­tra­tion over the bal­loon­ing debt, and reads in part: “Our meet­ings with the Hon Min­is­ter of Fi­nance on 21 July 2015 and the Ps of Fi­nance, ‘M’e ‘Ma­palesa Ra­papa on 28 July 2015 refers.

“in both meet­ings, the se­ri­ous­ness of the out­stand­ing debt owed by the Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho to Avis Fleet, some debts go­ing back 5-6 months, was dis­cussed.

“it was agreed upon by both Avis Fleet and the Hon Min­is­ter of Fi­nance that all new ve­hi­cle-re­place­ment or­ders will be halted un­til such time as a new con­tract is in place.

“The con­cern is that this will cre­ate op­er­a­tional dis­rup­tions in the min­istries. in ad­di­tion to this, un­til such time as the Avis Fleet col­lec­tive debt is set­tled by the Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho (GOL), cer­tain fleet-man­age­ment ser­vices to the Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho will cease un­til such time as the debt is set­tled.

“Avis Fleet is cit­ing Clause 32.2.3 of the Avis Fleet/gol fleet-man­age­ment con­tract ti­tled: With­hold­ing of ser­vices, in this re­gard”.

Mr Dell ex­presses “con­cern” over gov­ern­ment’s in­dif­fer­ence con­cern­ing the debt, hence the dras­tic de­ci­sion to with­draw ser­vices un­til the money has been paid.

His let­ter con­tin­ues: “it is of con­cern to note that since these two meet­ings, there has been lit­tle move­ment in the debt-pay­ments.

To date, we have as­sisted min­istries that are good pay­ers with full ser­vices but we are now go­ing to hold the Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho col­lec­tively re­spon­si­ble for the fleet debts.

“The di­rec­tors of Avis Fleet Le­sotho have now in­structed that more strin­gent mea­sures are to be im­ple­mented and un­til such time as the debt sit­u­a­tion is nor­malised and set­tled, the fol­low­ing steps are be­ing im­ple­mented with im­me­di­ate ef­fect:

all gov­ern­ment-owned (Full Main­te­nance) ve­hi­cles will not be ser­viced or at­tended to.

all re­place­ment Full Main­te­nance Lease (FML) ve­hi­cle or­ders are be­ing with­held and not or­dered.

No new FM ve­hi­cles will be or­dered by Avis Fleet.

avis Fleet will not agree to any FML vip ve­hi­cle-set­tle­ments so that out­go­ing Pss can take pos­ses­sion of the ve­hi­cle.

all short-term rentals (STR) will cease on Fri­day 7 Au­gust 2015 and be re­called. This in­cludes all STR vip ve­hi­cles that are be­ing op­er­ated by new min­istries.

all com­mer­cial hire ve­hi­cles will be with­drawn on Fri­day 7 Au­gust 2015.

all ve­hi­cles due for terming will be re­called by Avis Fleet with no re­place­ment ve­hi­cle given in its place.”

Mr Dell fur­ther tells the min­is­ter that the di­rec­tors of the com­pany, which com­menced busi­ness in Le­sotho on 1 Novem­ber 2007 af­ter win­ning a ten­der to man­age the gov­ern­ment fleet, were “con­cerned” the ul­ti­ma­tum could sour re­la­tions but re­mained res­o­lute in their de­ter­mi­na­tion to re­cover the money.

“it is of con­cern to the Di­rec­tors of Avis Fleet that these steps will lead to busi­ness in­ter­rup­tions for the Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho and a break­down in re­la­tion­ship be­tween Avis Fleet and the Gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho. We have to get this debt sit­u­a­tion nor­malised.”

Con­tacted for com­ment yesterday, Act­ing Fi­nance Prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary Tom Mpeta con­firmed re­ceiv­ing the Avis ul­ti­ma­tum but would not dis­cuss the is­sue.

“i can’t re­ally go into de­tails of the mat­ter; i think it would be ap­pro­pri­ate if you could talk to the Ps on Fri­day”.

Ac­coun­tant Gen­eral sam­son Mphaka who was also copied by Mr Dell, was not reach­able on his mo­bile phone un­til the time of go­ing to press last night, while the Avis Fleet phones rang unan­swered yesterday.

Avis is 75 per­cent owned by Avis Fleet ser­vices south Africa, with the re­main­ing shares be­long­ing to a Ba­sotho Con­sor­tium.

The com­pany’s ser­vices in­clude full main­te­nance leas­ing, man­aged main­te­nance, ac­ci­dent man­age­ment, work­shop man­age­ment, ve­hi­cle track­ing, fuel man­age­ment and dis­posal of used ve­hi­cles through auc­tions.

in ad­di­tion to gov­ern­ment, the com­pany also of­fers its ser­vices to the pri­vate sec­tor.

Avis Coun­try Man­ager Keith Dell.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr ‘Mam­phono Khaketla.

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