The Mercury

Parcels ruling could hit local logistics sector hard if upheld

- KAREN SINGH karen.singh@inl.co.za

PLACING limitation­s on who could handle smaller packages would have a negative impact on the local logistics sector.

This is according to DPO SA, an e-commerce payment services provider, which was commenting yesterday on the litigation between the South African Post Office (Sapo) and PostNet and the SA Express Parcel Associatio­n (SAEPA) over the right to deliver packages weighing 1kg and less.

While Sapo said it preferred not to comment on a matter that was before the court, it did provide background in which it said that the Postal Services Act reserves the transport and delivery of postal items weighing 1kg and less for the Post Office. “This means that other businesses that deliver such items are breaking the law.”

The matter was dealt with by the Independen­t Communicat­ions Authority of South Africa (Icasa) after Sapo lodged a complaint against PostNet in 2018.

A ruling by Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee in September 2019 stated that PostNet be ordered to desist from contraveni­ng section 15(1) of the Postal Services Act related to the delivery of parcels weighing 1kg or less.

Sapo said PostNet and SAEPA took the finding on review in court.

“Until the case is heard in court, Icasa’s finding is suspended. No court date has been set.”

Weighing in on the matter, DPO South Africa managing director Peter Harvey said that in the absence of an effective post office, the package delivery sector must be able to fill the gap.

He said DPO SA worked with tens of thousands of e-commerce companies, of which a large number had sprung up as a result of Covid-19 shutdowns.

“These smaller businesses, which are already dealing with the complexiti­es of competing against larger and even internatio­nal companies, rely on their courier partners to ensure reliable, secure and fast delivery.”

Harvey said placing limitation­s on who could handle smaller packages would negatively impact the local logistics sector. “In our opinion, the government should work hard on improving the state of the South African 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,” said Harvey.

SAEPA declined to comment as the matter is before court, while PostNet could not be reached for comment.

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