Loses appeal against Competition and Consumer Authority
Gaborone Container Terminal (Gabcon) has lost its case against the Competition and Consumer Authority before the Competition and Consumer Tribunal.
Gabcon had challenged Competition and Consumer Authority’s investigation results that alleged that Gabcon’s conduct amounted to an abuse of dominant position in the market in contravention of section 30 (1) of the Act.
The Authority’s investigations had proved that Gabcon demonstrated that it had market power as it acted independently from its competitors and customers.
The investigations further revealed that Gabcon had high market power in the business of hauling containers, which not only affected private haulers but customers too, as they have been left with no choice on who provides them with haulage services.
The Authority had found that Gabcon had refused to provide private haulage services to their customers through the implementation of a new policy, which requires private haulers to obtain a permit in order to access the dry port.
Even after obtaining the permit, it is said Gabcon still refused to allow private haulers to load customer containers.
The Competition and Consumer Authority, formerly, Competition Authority had noted that such abuse of market dominance by Gabcon had an effect on the ease to import products and for the ease with which new enterprises can enter and secure a place in the haulage market.
The result of this, is believed, could be Gabcon’s competitors in the downstream market exiting the market due to foreclosure, that is, being excluded and denied access to service customers in the downstream market.
Private haulers are said to be further disadvantaged by the fact that Gabcon bonded facility near the railway line is the only one in Gaborone.
Given the above reasons, the Authority sought an order declaring that Gabcon had abused its dominant position in the haulage of containers market, and also the company ceases with immediate effect from imposing stringiest conditions on the private haulers access to its facility.
The Authority also wanted Gabcon to stop coercing private haulers’ customers to use its hauling services in the downstream market among others.
The matter between Gabcon and Competition and Consumer Authority was first before the Competition Commission, a predecessor of the Competition and Consumer Tribunal in November 2018 with the Authority as the applicant.
However, on the 10th of December the same year, Gabcon made an application for a hearing on a certain legal point before making another application on the 21st of the same month.
Following a hearing where parties; Gabcon, and the Authority presented their case, the Tribunal has recently dismissed Gabcon’s application in its entirety and with costs.
Among other points raised by Gabcon was that it operates on the basis of a statutory monopoly, and therefore exempt from the Competition Act.