About 4,000 lotto receivers have been out of business for more than a month now following the decision by SIMNET Ghana Limited to withdraw its services to the National Lottery Authority (NLA).
Since October 3, 2012, SIMNET Ghana, a technical service provider for the NLA, has terminated its operations with the NLA because of disputes over the payment of bills for rendered services.
Consequently, lotto receivers who operate terminal portable machines (TPMs) on the SIMNET platform have been out of business for more than four weeks now.
Additionally, their money has been locked up in the TPMs.
The total amount locked up in the SIMNET machine is unknown, but the Director of Corporate Planning and Sales at the NLA, Mr Kplorlali Gbologa, said it was estimated at GH¢500,000.
The NLA does not also know the exact number of lotto receivers who have been affected by the sudden shutdown.
However, an official of the NLA said there were about 4,000 TPM machines, although not all of them were active at the time of the crisis.
“For four weeks now I have not worked and, worst of all, my money is locked up in the system,” a lotto operator, Madam Ophelia Attimo, told graphic.com.gh in Accra.
According to her, in all the 22 years that she had worked as a lotto operator, “this is the first time I have had to go through a situation like that”.
“Some of us borrowed money to invest in this business and we, therefore, expect the NLA to give us a tangible feedback,” another lotto operator, Mr Kwesi Max Boison, stated.
SIMNET’s termination of services to the NLA may not have been sudden, after all, since, according to the National Chairman of the Lottery Receivers Union, Mr Daniel Mensah, the union received a letter from EDITEC UK dated May I, 20I2 stating that the NLA owed EDITEC for the services it had rendered to the NLA.
EDITEC UK is a manufacturer supplier of SIMNET Ghana.
The letter, which was copied to the Chief Executive Officer of the NLA, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and SIMNET Ghana, threatened to terminate the services of EDITEC to SIMNET and, consequently, the national lottery operator.
Sections of the letter stated: “As painful as it would be for EDITEC, the current situation will unfortunately leave us with no option but to shut down the NLA system, with the multiple consequences that will result from that. We hereby need to make it very clear, should the situation not come back to normal within the next days, as per each part’s obligation, we will have no choice but to stop our services and, therefore, make it impossible for NLA to use the EDITEC system.”
Currently, the NLA is working towards restoring the livelihoods of the affected operators and has, consequently, met with those in the Greater Accra Region to discuss the way forward.
At the session, the NLA announced its plans to re-train operators, beginning from November 15, 2012, during which the authority would provide the operators with the requisite skills to enable them to handle and operate a new system of sale machines.
Mr Gbologa said all the new machines would be loaded with credit reflecting what each person had on his or her TPM before the shutdown.
He explained, however, that the NLA could still not determine how much some operators had on their TPMs, adding that a lot was being done to ensure that nobody lost his or her money.
He commented sparingly on the tussle between the NLA and SIMNET, since the matter was currently before court.
Source: Daily Graphic