By Emeka Aginam
Although the Petroleum products marketers and the Federal Government, Monday, reached an agreement over the lingering fuel crisis in the country, there are strong indications that commercial banks may close their business offices and even shut down Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, across the nation if petroleum products are not readily available.
Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, had agreed to call off their strike action over unpaid subsidy claims and commence lifting of petroleum products nationwide.
Meanwhile, some of the commercial banks in Lagos including Guarantee Trust Bank, First City Monument Bank, FCMB, among others on Monday sent text messages to their customers on the possibility of shutting down banking operations if the situation continues.
Given the shortage of petroleum products in the country, some of the commercials on Monday, according to Vanguard Hi-Tech findings were compelled to close down banking operations by 1:pm as against 4:pm official closing time.
FCMB in a text message sent to its customers stated clearly that, “Dear customer, our branches will close at 1pm from Monday May 25th, 2015 due to the shortage of petroleum products. All our alternative channels will remain available”
What this means is that majority of Nigerian commercial banks will not be working at full capacity if the scarcity had continued.
Just last weekend, some of the ATMs located in Ikeja city had network problems as the inverters that power the network had little or no power to run the machines.
“The ATMs will be affected in the current scenario. It is inverter that powers ATMs after daily banking operations. By the time the inverters runs down, the ATM will seize to work. That is the simple truth about it”, a bank official in one of the banks located in Ikaja told Vanguard Hi-Tech in an interaction.
According to her, the commercial banks will be compelled to be running half day if the situation remains.
Telecoms to shut down operations
The warning from MTN, Airtel and Etisalat was a sign that the scarcity was hitting hard on their operations
Airtel on Sunday had said that the situation was impacting negatively on its commitments to delivering quality services and seamless telephony experience to Nigerians.
Airtel said in a statement: “We are currently doing everything within our means, as well as going the extra mile, to ensure that all our base stations and switches are up and running.
“It is sad to note that it is becoming increasingly difficult to replenish current stock of diesel due to the lingering scarcity of the products.
“We are also concerned that, if the situation persists, it may have adverse effects on our network, impacting both voice and data services.
Similarly, MTN has warned that its network faces shut down due to fuel shortages that had crippled the nation.
The company, the biggest subsidiary of South Africa-based MTN Group, said it needed a “significant quantity of diesel in the very near future to prevent a shut-down of services across Nigeria.
“If diesel supplies are not received within the next 24 hours, the network will be seriously degraded and customers will feel the impact,” it added on its Twitter account, @MTNNG, weekend.
“Diesel generators power most of MTN’s base stations and switches across the country, but fuel supplies are running low,” MTN Corporate Services Executive, Akinwale Goodluck, said.
Also reacting, Etisalat Nigeria on Monday announced possible disruptions to its operations and services as a result of the nationwide scarcity of petroleum products.
“Management stated that the company is working assiduously to minimise the impact given the circumstances.
“The scarcity of petroleum products has impacted every sector of the economy and the provision of telecommunications services is no exception. We are however working with partners and doing all that is possible to continue to deliver quality services in spite of the challenge. Such a prolonged situation threatens our ability to re-fuel all our sites and thus negatively impacting service.