Registration woes could put dealers out of business!
Truck dealers in the Eastern Cape are spitting mad! Thanks to administrative inefficiencies, their very livelihood is being impacted! CHARLEEN CLARKE investigates …
Roy Thompson, commercial vehicle sales consultant at Maritime Motors in Port Elizabeth, is one very angry man. Understandably so. He tells FOCUS that, thanks to “pathetic levels of incompetence”, there are massive time lapses between applying for weight changes and vehicle registration in the province.
“The service from the post office and Bisho is shoddy and utterly inconsistent,” he insists. (The post office handles all licensing and weight change applications in Port Elizabeth; the Eastern Cape Department of Transport is located in Bisho.)
These delays have serious implications. For example, issues such as the 21-day permit expiring, and unlicensed trucks driving on the road. Thompson says: “It generally takes two to three weeks for these applications to go through … We phone the post office, but they either don’t answer, or they say that nothing has been done from Bisho’s side.”
Thompson has now reached the end of his tether. “While we should be concentrating on new deals, we are having to contend with this rubbish as an ongoing issue. We continually have to carry the stress of clients threatening us, together with the possibility of fines for unlicensed vehicles travelling on our roads. If the situation doesn’t change, I can guarantee you that we will go bankrupt in within six months,” he tells FOCUS.
Thompson is not alone in his ire. Frikkie Viljoen, sales consultant at Isuzu Truck Centre in Port Elizabeth, says he has been struggling with the same issue. “I currently have four weight-change transactions that have been outstanding for more than 30 days. The phones at Bisho are not even answered,” he reports.
Peter Parkin, Hino sales manager at Hino Algoa Diaz Road, has experienced exactly the same frustration. “I have a submission that is six weeks old and has still not been processed. We have five other outstanding submissions. Apart from the legal issue, this is costing us R550 to R600 extra per month for additional permits. The situation is disastrous. We are now reaching the point where Certificates of Fitness (CoFs) will need to be redone at a further cost of R450 a time. This is an extra cost for us and an inconvenience for our customers, because these units need to be taken out of service to redo the CoF,” he reveals.
Thompson contends that this extra cost is massively unfair and unnecessary. “When permits expire, is the post office prepared to issue a new one at its cost? Neither Maritime Motors nor our clients are prepared to pay for a second permit (which I am also led to believe is illegal; you can only legally issue one 21-day permit per vehicle),” he tells FOCUS.
Erwin Stroebel, regional manager: Eastern/Southern Cape & Border at the Retail Motor Industry Organisation, confirms that the situation has serious implications. “This has a devastating effect on the Eastern Cape economy; we have a real problem here!”
Elsewhere is much quicker
What really galls the sales professionals is the fact that the situation is not replicated in other provinces. “Application for weight change was lodged in Cape Town on June 7; the Natis documents were issued on June 13. Cape Town is frequently even faster (three or four days). I delivered a new Mercedes tipper truck to Mossel Bay on June 2, and personally applied for a weight and description change at the licensing office in that city. The Natis document was processed by June 7! That is within three working days!” reveals Thompson.
“How is it possible that the Port Elizabeth authorities are so incompetent when the proof is quite clear for all to see: Mossel Bay municipality has had its weight-change applications and Natis documentation processed within three days!”
No end in sight
Because of the severe consequences, the dealerships have moved heaven and earth to speed up the processes; but to no avail. They have been met with a stony silence (FOCUS had precisely the same reaction when we attempted to get comment from the post office and the Eastern Cape Department of Transport). Not surprisingly, this sorry state of affairs is hugely frustrating for all those concerned.
“We are sick and tired of stressing ourselves out just to get new commercial vehicles registered here in the Eastern Cape. This is solely due to a ‘don’t care’ attitude between the post office and Bisho. We cannot carry on like this anymore!” says Thompson.
Added to this, there are now unlicensed vehicles trawling the province’s roads – through no fault of the dealers. “Who is going to pay the fine if and when the client is stopped and his truck is pulled off the road?” he asks?
That’s a very good question indeed …
• As this issue of FOCUS was going to print, Charles Reynolds, general manager at the Eastern Cape Department of Transport, sent us the following communication. “I would suggest that a meeting be arranged in Port Elizabeth this week between post office, dealers and the Eastern Cape Department of Transport to resolve this matter. I will task relevant managers to facilitate such meeting. Ms Bovu will contact role players to attend.” We will report on the outcome of this meeting in a future issue of FOCUS.