Joburg leaders set to meet with car rental companies to prevent them from grounding City's fleet

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Mayoral spokesperson Mabine Seabe holds a media briefing with Group Corporate and Shared Services MMC Leah Knott on Thursday morning.
Mayoral spokesperson Mabine Seabe holds a media briefing with Group Corporate and Shared Services MMC Leah Knott on Thursday morning.
Alex Patrick
  • Car rental companies have agreed not to pull more vehicles from the Johannesburg fleet until they meet with City of Johannesburg officials.
  • On Wednesday, Afrirent announced the grounding of its fleet.
  • Avis Fleet has already removed some of its fleet vehicles from the City.

Car rental companies have agreed to give the City of Johannesburg another day to sort out its lapsed vehicle rental agreement.

On Wednesday evening, Afrirent Fleet Management announced it would ground its fleet from midnight due to the absence of a "required interim appointment".

On 16 November, Avis Fleet collected some of its vehicles due to the expiry of the maintenance lease agreement with the City on 31 October.

Group Corporate and Shared Services MMC Leah Knott and Mayor Mpho Phalatse will meet with both companies over the City's fleet on Thursday, after the second day of the ninth ordinary council sitting.

The City has 2 169 Afrirent vehicles. Afrirent is leasing 1 176 vehicles to the public safety division and 373 to Joburg Water.

Avis had leased 560 vehicles to the City but took back 19 of its 124 vehicles from the public safety division and 175 of its 306 vehicles from Joburg Water.

READ | Afrirent parks midnight grounding of City of Joburg vehicle fleet after 11th-hour meeting

Knott said the meeting would be about a deviation from the current contract. The deviation would amount to a three-month extension of the expired lease.

Knott said the issue related to procurement at the City and not with the fleet.

"We are playing open cards with the companies. There are historical issues with compliance, and the companies want assurance they are complying with the law [by extending the lease]."

Knott said two companies had gone to court over the contracts. She would not comment on which companies had done so but alluded to the fact that one of the companies had been awarded the fleet contract.

"The fleet has been poorly managed. Some [rentals] have not been paid in two years. There are issues with licencing."

Knott was commenting on a viral image of a Joburg metro vehicle with a licence that had expired a year ago.

"This [problem] started years ago."

She said despite the council not passing a R2-billion short-term loan on Wednesday, the City had a budget to pay for vehicle rental. She said the same was true of municipal salaries.

"Afrirent agreed to wait to remove its 2 169 vehicles until we meet. So far, Joburg Water has been the worst affected by the removal of vehicles, but any vehicle [taken] is a loss for service delivery," she added.

On Wednesday night, Afrirent CEO Senzo Tsabedze informed the City of the decision to ground the fleet.

"Since the expiry of the contract, Afrirent has acted in good faith. We have been very patient with the City and responsive to the challenges faced by the City by keeping the vehicles running. However, our lawyers have advised us that we are in serious contravention of the Municipal Finance Act and supply chain regulations," Tsabedze said.

"It is regrettable that this must come to this. We, unfortunately, find it difficult to operate in an environment where key decisions cannot be made about matters of such importance."

Tsabedze later told News24 it was pausing the retrieval of the fleet following a late-night meeting with the City's acting municipal manager.

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