Post Office plans to take over online shopping deliveries

The South African Post Office (Sapo) wants courier companies to pay it an “agency fee” for the privilege of delivering parcels that weigh less than a kilogram. This is according to an article by MyBroadband.

The beleaguered parastatal revealed its plan in an invitation to courier companies to submit their “expression of interest” to be appointed agents of the Post Office to deliver packages. According to the Expression of Interest document, which MyBroadband saw, the Post Office wants to appoint service providers to render courier services as its agents.

Overview of the situation thus far:

  • The Post Office previously approached the sector regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), and laid a complaint against PostNet
  • This had far-reaching consequences for South Africa’s whole private courier industry, as the Post Office argued that it has a state-sanctioned monopoly over deliveries under 1kg
  • Icasa referred the complaint to its Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC)
  • The CCC ruled in the Post Office’s favour, citing the Postal Services Act 124 of 1998: only a licensed postal services operator may render certain reserved postal services
  • “Reserved services” include delivery of small parcels with specific dimensions and a mass of up to 1kg
  • PostNet approached the Gauteng High Court to challenge the CCC’s ruling
  • The Gauteng High Court granted an interdict to allow it and other couriers to continue offering their services until the matter was heard in court
  • The Post Office would not subcontract courier companies to deliver parcels — they would simply pay SAPO’s agency fee to carry on their business as usual.

Although the matter is still before the court, the Post Office said it reserves the right to invite formal proposals from those courier services providers that responded to its request for expressions of interest. It also reserved its right to cancel the request at any time and to not appoint any agents to act on its behalf.

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