E-ticketing remains pipe-dream

Football stakeholders have failed to fulfil their promise to implement the installation of electronic ticketing (e-ticketing) system at stadiums in the 2019 season.

Government, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) promised to have the system in place ahead of the new season as a way of eradicating gate collection fraud and maximise revenue at soccer matches, but during the week they changed their tune, saying that the project will no longer be implemented this year.

Football fans queuing outside the stadium to buy tickets

The system includes the installation of machines that validate barcodes on entry tickets at the stadiums, CCTV cameras around the venue and use of mobile gadgets such as mobile phones to purchase entry tickets.

Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development director of sports Jameson Ndalama says the project at government-owned Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe is still on only that the identification of contractors has delayed the process.

“The ministry approved the project and our team was advised to acquire sample quotations from various contractors to appreciate the cost. Only one company from South Africa submitted, but we could not engage them because they demanded too much for procurement of equipment and installation plus managing the facility for three years,” he said without disclosing the identity of the company and the sum demanded.

Ndalama said government now wants procurement process to be done locally since they now know what is required for them to implement the project.

“We have now given local companies an opportunity to submit quotations and explain to us how we can implement the project, which will be done at BNS as a pilot initiative. This means we will roll out the initiative this year,” he said.

The ministry took over the e-ticketing responsibility from the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS), which got quotations in 2016 from firms specialised in installation of the system such as South Africa’s TicketPro and Malawi-based MalCom. Then, the budget for the project was estimated at K300 million.

FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said they would be unable to install the system at their Chilomoni and Mpira stadiums in Blantyre, but they will continue to engage key stakeholders, including clubs and other ground owners to partially run the e-ticketing service.

“It will be a challenge to roll out the system in full because we do not have the capacity and the capability. We will continue to do it selectively at targeted stadiums,” he said.

RBM spokesperson Mbane Ngwira, who last year said they were finalising the evaluation of bids for e-ticketing contractors at Silver Stadium, on Friday said the season will start without the system in place at the facility.

 “The successful bidder was selected and we are now in the contract negotiations phase. Since most of the equipment will be imported, installation and commissioning of the project will not be completed before the commencement of the 2019 season,” he said.

Bullets chief executive officer Fleetwood Haiya said e-ticketing is the only way out of gate fraud and the delay to embrace the system would continue denying local clubs opportunity to survive financially, thereby, wearing down the competitive nature of top-flight football.

Initially, government planned to install the system at government-owned  Bingu, Civo and Kamuzu stadiums by September 2016 while RBM and FAM wanted to have the same at Silver Stadium and Chilomoni Stadium, respectively, by 2017, but some logistical hitches prompted them to push their deadlines to 2019.

Last year, due to the absence of full-fledged e-ticketing system, K4.7 million grew wings at BNS during the Airtel Top 8 semi-final between rivals Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers prompting FDH Bank to end its partnership with FAM regarding gate collection at stadiums.

However, the bank made a U-turn with the local soccer governing body six months later “after realising the problem was neither FAM nor FDH, but some criminal elements from some soccer fans”. n

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