Competition Tribunal dismisses emerging bus operator's application against Prasa

(news24)
(news24)

The Competition Tribunal has dismissed an interim relief application by a privately-owned bus company, Africa People Mover, which sought to stop the Passenger Rail Agency of SA from preventing it accessing to Johannesburg Park Station over unpaid fees.

The Pretoria-based bus operator accused Prasa of exclusionary behaviour, alleging that as an emerging operator it could not afford to pay the fees charged by the agency to access the terminal. Park Station station is the the country's largest road and rail transport hub, with a network of operators servicing routes around South Africa and the region.

The Competition Tribunal adjudicates cases sent to it from the Competition Commission - a statutory body that investigates uncompetitive behaviour, and hears appeals.

In a statement, the tribunal said evidence led during a hearing showed that APM owes the Prasa "a significant amount of money, after it defaulted on its payments to the state-owned entity for use of the Park Station facilities". It dismissed APM’s application with costs, saying the reasons for its decision will be issued in due course.

APM had asked the Tribunal for an interim relief order to interdict and restrain Prasa from preventing it from entering Park Station to load or off-load passengers. 

The hub is the only bus terminal in Johannesburg where APM can legally load and off-load passengers for inter-city travel.

Prasa, through its subsidiary Autopax Passenger Services, operates the Translux and City to City bus services. The agency had argued that APM had "flagrantly breached the access agreement that it freely concluded” and that the business relationship between the parties had clearly broken down. It further argued that the matter was a contractual dispute, and not a matter for competition law adjudication.

"There is no evidence that Prasa’s conduct is anything other than rational business behaviour, as opposed to an abuse of dominance as alleged by APM”.  

APM was founder in 2013 by Tumisang Kgaboesele, a former Autopax executive. The company owns 30 coaches and employs 220 people. It services routes between Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Polokwane and Pretoria and a number of smaller cities.

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