Car dealers hurt by strike delays

2010-08-31 00:00

STRIKE disruption at the government vehicle licensing department has hit the cashflow of city vehicle dealers, with some up to R4 million out of pocket.

Big dealers such as Key, Renault and Toyota have complained about the effect of the strike, and smaller dealers are also hurting.

“Since the beginning of the strike we have sold over 10 vehicles, but we are owed over R4 million by the banks who cannot release the money without relevant documents, which we have to obtain from the licensing department,” said new vehicle sales manager of McCarthy Toyota Gary Stocks.

But he said a big company like his is less affected than small dealers. “The small guys rely on this money to pay for their monthly bills,” said Stocks.

He said the licensing department in Hyslop Road cannot release logbooks and original copies of registration documents.

Dale Southern, MD of Key Pietermaritzburg, said his company cannot even obtain 21-day temporary number plates.

“We are sitting with 15 vehicles, which need to be registered in order for the banks to pay for them. We are owed over R2 million,” Southern said.

Clinton Nell, new vehicle sales manager for Renault, also said his company is owed plenty of money.

Some dealers said they have even resolved to use agencies that have connections inside the licensing department and charge up to R400 to register each vehicle.

“For permits for 10 vehicles we pay more than R1 000, which is a lot of money. Although some banks do undertake to pay the money and wait for the end of the strike to get the documents, most banks do not take chances,” said a car dealership manager.

Some dealers said when they went to do licensing early last week they were attended by skeleton staff — apparently senior managers.

“If we sell a vehicle it needs to be licensed. If we buy a vehicle we need to do police clearance and check if there are outstanding penalties. All this cannot be done because of the strike,” said a manager who declined to be named.

A senior official in the Transport Department said special arrangements were made for vehicle dealers to be able to obtain their document speedily even during the strike, however, neither head of department Chris Hlabisa nor MEC Willies Mchunu were available to answer detailed questions.

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