Johannesburg – Afrirent Fleet Management has withdrawn its cars and bus fleet from the City of Johannesburg (COJ) over a payment dispute.
In a letter to the COJ seen by The Bulrushes, Afrirent said: “All vehicles operating in the 12 user departments and municipal entities will be grounded effective 00h00 (midnight) on the 23rd of November and in line with the letter received by the City from our lawyers”.
Some of the vehicles that were withdrawn are used by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD).
Afrirent said all buses used for transportation of Pikitup staff will be suspended and will not be collecting staff from designated collection points and depots.
Adhoc vehicles used in the Food Parcel Delivery project have also been withdrawn.
“All user departments are requested to safely park all vehicles in designated spots and regional offices,” said the letter signed by Afrirent CEO Senzo Tsabedze.
The black-owned fleet management company Afrirent delivered the vehicles to JMPD as part of a R1.2 billion contract with the COJ.
However, the contract expired at the end of October 2022.
Since the expiry of the contract, Afrirent said it has “acted in good faith”.
The fleet management company added: “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 Municipality Finance Act and Supply Chain Regulations”.
In the absence of a “working/contractual relationship”, Afrirent said it had decided to withdraw its vehicles to avoid reputational damage.
“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,” said Tsabedze.
The City was yet to respond, but in a similar matter involving car rental company Avis it played down the impact of the withdrawal of vehicles.
Last week, Avis Fleet took back 47 cars it had leased to the municipality after the lease agreement lapsed on 31 October.
The City of Johannesburg leases about 4 000 vehicles from Avis and Afrirent.