Telkom plays down vehicle shortage fears

Johannesburg – Telecommunications giant Telkom has played down fears that it is experiencing a vehicle shortage for its technicians.


From July 1 2015, Telkom has signed on Bidvest as its sole supplier of fleet management services for the likes of technicians at the company.


The agreement with Bidvest comes after Telkom cancelled its deal with fleet management company Debis Fleet Management (DFM).


DFM provided a fleet of vehicles to Telkom since 2000. DFM, though, didn’t leave the deal quietly as earlier this year it challenged Telkom in the North Gauteng High Court in a bid to obtain “clarity regarding certain important topics relating to the expiry of the agreement”.


However, DFM lost the court bid and it had to comply with lead out services of vehicles to Telkom until midnight of June 30.


Since then, concerns have been raised that the changeover has resulted in some technicians not having cars, according to an angry customer, a Telkom technician, trade union Solidarity and another technology publication.


Sandra Steyn, who runs a luxury guest house business in Hermanus, told Fin24 that a fault on her phone line has been unattended to since June 24 and that she was told by Telkom technicians this week that they currently don’t have cars to attend to customer complaints.


A Telkom technical manager in the area declined to comment to Fin24.


But Fin24, through phoning a Telkom technical call centre, understands that the vehicle shortage extends across the country. A Telkom technician on the phone call further said that the car shortage will occur for between two weeks to a month.


Trade union Solidarity, which is embroiled in a dispute with Telkom over the company’s plan to retrench thousands of workers, also told Fin24 that it is aware of vehicle shortages at the company through its union members.


“Telkom has assured us that they are taking care of the situation and that everything will be sorted by the end of July,” said Inge Strydom, Solidarity’s media relations officer.


Meanwhile, technology publication TechCentral has reported that, according to a source, Bidvest is short of 3 000 vehicles out of a total of 5 000.


Telkom turns to car rentals


Meanwhile, Sinah Phochana, who is Telkom’s executive for PR corporate, has played down fears over the company’s fleet management contract changeover and said that Bidvest is using short-term rental cars in the meantime where required.


“A changeover of service providers of this magnitude, requires significant operational changes, and requires a large number of new purpose built vehicles to be available from the manufacturers,” Phochana told Fin24 in an emailed statement.


“As a consequence, Bidvest is utilising some short term rental vehicles for the month of July, whilst the remainder of the new vehicles are registered and delivered to Telkom. Most of the new vehicles have been delivered. By the end of July, the complete new fleet will be in operation.


“Telkom and Bidvest are working closely together on this handover, and neither party expects there to be significant or material operational issues as a result of this handover,” said Phochana.


Disruption to business


Meanwhile, Telkom customer Sandra Steyn explained how she’s been hit by a lack of service.


“It’s just embarrassing. I have international guests in the guest house; I’m going to have a full house over the weekend and we’re going to have to tell guests you can’t contact management over the switchboard; you’ll have to call the cellphone,” Steyn told Fin24.


“We have one mobile phone that works, but fortunately our line is working and our ADSL line is working.


Steyn further said that she’s even offered to collect technicians, who are based close to her business, and bring them to the guest house.


“I’ve offered to pick him up. I’ve said: Can’t he walk not more than two three blocks away? But they’re not willing and they’ve just said ‘sorry, you’ll have to wait and it will probably be a month’”.


Fin24

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