. Customers of FCMB, Sterling Bank, UBA others stranded in Lagos, Ogun
At a time when most of the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country constantly advertise their seamless banking services through other payment system, Nigerians in their numbers have scored most of the lenders low during this year Eid-El-Kabir holiday, as banks customers were stranded due to poor banking network services, Automated Teller Machine (ATMs) dispense errors, among many others hitches faced during the festive period, Daily Times findings has revealed.
The holiday rush witnessed on Thursday across the banking halls in the country continued over the weekend, even though it was at different banks’ ATM centres, because of the official closure of corporate organisations and all government agencies due to the declaration of Friday and Monday as public holiday for this year Islamic festival by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Our correspondent who monitored the development observed that customers in their numbers besieged their respective banks to withdraw money from the ATMs for the long holidays, but lamented over inability of their banks to rescue them at a time when they were needed most.
Bank customers, who related their ordeal to our correspondent in separate interview during the holiday, said that apart from enduring long queues at different ATM points, most of the machines are not dispensing cash, which they said made them stranded during the festive period.
In fact, many of the customers who were at various bank premises trying to withdraw cash from the ATMs decried poor services, as they were unable to withdraw due to the error message displayed “Unable to dispense cash.”
A visit by our correspondent to most of the ATM centres at the weekend; and during the holiday, showed that there were long queues at most of the ATMs in various part of Lagos and Ogun states, while inadequate provision of funds in the ATMs formed the major challenges experienced.
“I believed the bank management is aware of the usual chaos at ATMs during weekends, holidays or festive periods and ought to have made adequate provision, by ensuring sufficient funds in ATMs, a customer of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) lamented.
Another bank customer, Mr. Adebayo Akinleye, said: “It is very unfair that the interest of customers is not considered by the banks and the government should try and look into the matter for the good of the poor masses.”
Our further checks showed that various banks along Ikorodu Road in Lagos, where many bank branches were situated, experienced fewer customers on Friday, but returned on Sunday and extended to Monday when withdrawing at the ATMs become problem as the machines failed to dispense cash.
Mr. Olatunbosun David, a customer of Guarantee Trust Bank (GTBank), said when he visited the bank earlier on Friday it was a lot easier to withdraw; but was surprise on Monday to see a lot of people waiting for their turn to withdraw the ATM’s point.
Linking the bad state of the Nigerian economy to what he referred as ugly development, he said, “ Due to the current recession in the country, one has to manage every resources he has, if only adequate provisions were made by those in power, things will be easier for all of us.”
He added: “We are on Sallah holiday; and as you can see, very few people are seen withdrawing money, because everybody is broke; there is no money in the economy if not for the poor network services on the part of the banks, contributing to the lack of money in the machines, there shouldn’t be long queue like this,” he explained.
Another experienced related with our correspondent was the issue of selection of cards by some of the ATM machines, while other bank carriers were not able to withdraw their fund.
However, a Lagos based Zenith bank customer, who identified himself as Mr. Kunle Olujimi, told our correspondent in Lagos that he was very disappointed not to be able to withdraw money from the Diamond bank ATM point at Ladipo Oluwole, Adeniyi Jones in Ikeja Lagos.
According to him, the long holiday had virtually left everyone in the festival mood and by bu Sunday, I can tell you that most of the people were already cash-strapped, in addition to the fact that most of the ATMs during the holidays have no cash to dispense.
“Some of us who are business men have been under serious financial stress in the last few days, due to the Sallah holidays because virtually all the ATMs in my area had no cash to dispense when I got there on Sunday and the same thing is happening now even though it was better but a whole lot of were also here to withdraw”, Mr. Oljumi explained.
Our correspondent, who monitored the situation in Lagos, also observed that three banks in Agege, which include Union Bank, Zenith Bank, and GTBank were functional on the last working day of last week and Friday but users were put under pressure when they visited during holiday because there large turnout of customers waiting for their turn, as most of the machines were not dispensing.
In Ogun state, a bank customer, Temitope Mustapha told Daily Times that the long holiday has put Nigerians under unnecessary financial pressure, even though she agreed that most of the people needed the holiday to rest, and rejoice with their Muslim family members and friends.
Again, in our facts findings, we observed that most of the DMBs in the ever busy city of Sango in Ota Local Government area of Ogun State show that only few of the banks ATMs were working why majority were unable to dispense cash.
Customers of Heritage Bank, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, First Bank of Nigeria (FBN); Skye Bank and Diamond Bank bemoaned failure of their banks ATMs in dispensing cash.
Although, some customers, who succeeded in getting money, said that they found it difficult to withdraw from their banks ATMs, throughout Saturday and were promised by the security personnel on duty to check back the next day, but the story was the same when we got there on Sunday, because the ATMs were still not functional, a bank customer has said.
For instance, Heritage bank in Sango axis has four ATMs and none of these machines dispense cash on Monday, but only displays the message that reads, ‘Temporarily unable to dispense cash’.
A bank customer, who identified himself as Mr. Olaniyi, told our correspondent that he approached the bank’s security man on duty, over non-payment of any of the four ATMs, but was could not provide any reasonable reasons why the ATMs were mot loaded with fund.
The story was the same at Fidelity Bank plc, as the lender with six machines has none of them working, which left so many of its bank customers stranded, because some of them don’t even have money to proceed on their journey.
We observed that a carrier of another bank card tried everything possible to withdraw from his account but was not successful, and resulted to try his luck if he could load on the ATM so that they can bring money for him to enable him go home but the machine only read, ‘Transaction not allowed on this machine’.
DTN investigations further has it that a lot of bank customers who had spent all they had throughout the holiday but planning for today’s resumption triggered the mass customers invasion of various banks to withdraw money in preparation for the new busy week.
Others, who spoke with our correspondent, lamented the long queues and insufficient funds in the machines, urging the banks to evolve new measures aimed at resolving the challenges.
But an official of a commercial bank, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak, said that the situation was due to high patronage at ATMs during festive periods.
She said that funds were loaded in the ATMs based on availability, saying an official of the bank had been designated to load the ATMs as soon as fund was available.
She added that a bank official has been designated to work through the weekend and public holidays to attend to issues at the ATMs.
However, a customer, who simply identifies as Eng. Adekogbe, said that banks should have done the needful since they are aware of the high patronage at ATMs during the festive periods.
He, however, said that the bank was trying its best to fix the problems as they came up.
According to him, each ATM takes as much as N8 million with N2m of N1,000 notes in each of the four trays in each machine.
The bank official said that security guards from private firms were always available around the gallery to offer assistance to customers in need to quicken process of withdrawal.
Meanwhile, economic expert, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to remove old and dirty notes from circulation.
Uwaleke, an Associate Professor of Banking at the Nasarawa State University, said such notes were causing constant malfunctioning of ATMs, especially during pressure periods.
In a national survey on challenges faced by bank customers in cash withdrawal at festive periods, hundreds of Nigerians complained of machine failure, slowness and long queues.
These happened at a time when people were eager to withdraw their savings to celebrate, many of them left frustrated due to the challenges.
Many of the banks in some states do not have enough ATM machines to cater to the needs of the people and the ones available break down when they are put on constant use.
To proffer solution to these, Uwaleke urged the CBN to ensure that banks did not use worn-out notes in the ATMs.
“Abroad, the ATMs are used to dispense new ‘mint’ notes, so when you use dirty notes, the machine finds it difficult to recognise it or even dispense it.
“The money in the ATM is what these banks get from the CBN; and you will agree with me that most notes in circulation today are dirty and old.
“As a customer, when you complain about the condition of the bank notes, the banks will just tell you that is what they have.
“So, CBN should try and ensure that dirty notes are withdrawn from circulation and replaced with new ones, especially during festive periods,” he said.
Motolani Oseni and Temitope Omoniyi