Judgment is expected next Thursday in a dispute between Telkom and Daimler Fleet Management over a contract for the management of Telkom’s full fleet of 6 000 vehicles used by the telecommunications operator’s field technicians across South Africa.
Daimler Fleet Management (trading at Debis Fleet Management) said on Wednesday that it has “not been able to obtain clarity regarding certain important topics relating to the expiry of the agreement and in the interest of the business, Daimler Fleet Management has applied to the north Gauteng high court on an urgent basis for recourse in this matter”.
Daimler declined to comment further.
Telkom awarded its fleet management contract to Daimler Fleet Management, which is a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, in 2000. The contract was renewed in 2008 and was extended twice, in 2012 and again in 2013.
In response to a query from TechCentral, Telkom said that in mid-2014, the company “opted to test the market” and placed the fleet management business out on tender. “Following a rigorous and competitive tendering process, Bidvest was awarded the fleet management contract,” said spokesman Jacqui O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan said Telkom’s existing contract with Daimler/Debis makes provision for a three-month “lead out” phase after the expiry of the contract. “During this ‘lead out’ period, Debis is required to assist Telkom in managing an orderly transition to the new service provider, in this instance the newly appointed Bidvest,” she said.
“In March this year, Debis informed Telkom that its interpretation of the contract was that the vehicles used by Telkom’s national team of technicians were not included in this ‘lead out’ phase. As the contract in question relates to vehicle fleet management, Telkom contends that the notion that the actual vehicles would not be included in the ‘lead out’ period is simply illogical.”
Daimler/Debis brought the matter before the high court in Pretoria on an urgent basis on 7 April. According to Telkom, the court found that the case was not urgent and should be heard the following week.
“The judge also ordered that Debis continue to provide the fleet management service to Telkom on a ‘status quo’ basis,” O’Sullivan said. “The high court heard the matter on 9 April and the judgment has been deferred until 24 April. Debis has again been ordered to continue providing the fleet management service on a ‘status quo’ basis.”
She told TechCentral that Telkom found it “disappointing” given that after the two companies’ “long partnership”, Daimler/Debis had “chosen to follow this route”.
“Telkom is confident in its case and that we will receive a favourable outcome next week,” she said.
Daimler/Debis told TechCentral that until judgment is handed down, the company will continue to provide fleet management services to Telkom. “We cannot comment further on this pending legal matter,” a spokesman said. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media