Sept. – Bank customers in the country have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure commercial banks live up to their mandate of satisfying customers.
They made the appeal in separate interviews on Sunday in various parts of the country.
Many of the customers were at various bank premises trying to withdraw cash from the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
A cross section of them decried poor services by the banks, especially in ensuring adequate provision of funds in the ATMs at weekends and public holidays.
A visit by a NAN correspondent to most of the centres at the weekend showed long queues at the very limited ATMs within the various premises.
“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.
“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,” a customer, Adams Malamute said.
NAN reports that at the Area 3, Garki, Abuja, where many bank branches were situated, fewer customers were seen making withdrawers and majority of the ATMs were dispensing cash.
Mr Alfred Agula, a customer at the Guarantee Trust Bank, said he drove all the way to town to withdraw money because he wanted to avoid long queues.
“The economy is very tight and 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.
“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.
It was also a tale of frustration for many bank customers during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration in the South west zone as many ATMs failed to dispense cash.
Long queues were also a permanent feature at most banks’ premises.
In Oyo State, some of the customers who spoke with NAN, 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, told NAN that the situation was due to high patronage at ATMs during festive periods .
She said that funds were loaded into the ATMs based on availability, saying an official of the bank had been designated to load the ATMs as soon as fund was available.
“A bank official works at weekends and public holidays to attend to issues at the ATMs,’’ she stated.
In Ogun, customers also faced similar hitches and called on banks in the state to step up measures to ensuring easy cash withdrawals through ATMs.
Most, if not all ATMs in the Ijebu-Ode metropolis, are concentrated on the Folagbade-Ibadan road in Ijebu-Ode, a situation the banks attributed to security reasons.
Mrs Adeola Akinyemi, a teacher in Odogbolu, said residents of the area and the neighbouring Ikenne town always had difficulties using ATMs.
An official of one of the commercial banks in the area, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that the patronage of ATMs was usually high during 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 N2 million 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.
NAN was told that policemen were also around to ensure general security in the banks.
The source added that officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) always visited the banks and the galleries during the festive periods to monitor ATM uptime and off time.
But in Ekiti, many customers had cheery tales to tell as the ATMs were working maximally.
NAN correspondents who visited ATM points at Ikole Ekiti, Ikere Ekiti, Emure Ekiti, Ilawe Ekiti, Ifaki Ekiti, reported that while there were queues, the ATMs were working.
A banker, who pleaded anonymity, however, blamed the challenges faced in operating the ATMs on technical error traceable to poor installation.
He said the unavailability of cash in some ATMs was because no machine could be uploaded with over N1m after 6p.m. to minimise the risk of theft and security breaches.
“As a result, 10 big customers can come and exhaust an ATM in a single night and then subsequent customers will not be able to access cash from the same machine until probably the next day.”
In Ondo State, many residents of Akure metropolis also experienced the situation, urging the financial institutions to examine the faults and fix them.
The story was not different in Osun, where NAN observed long queues in some communities, although the ATMs were dispensing cash.
Some of the customers, who spoke with NAN, expressed satisfaction over the services provided by the banks during the holidays.
Mr Giwa Sulaiman, an Operations Manager in one of the new generation banks in Osogbo, said the bank had made provisions for easy access for withdrawal from ATMs during the Eid-el-Kabir holidays.
Sulaiman said apart from physical cash deposit over the counter in the banking hall during the holidays, customers would have access to ATMs and other e-channels to make withdrawal.
Also, Mr Kingsley Ikedia, a Customer Relations Manager of another new generation bank, said there was adequate provision for withdrawals during the holidays.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in Osun said the council had met with commercial banks on the need to protect the rights of customers during the holidays.
Mr Akinwunmi Ishola, CPC Senior Scientific Officer, told NAN that the council had several meetings with stakeholders in the banking sector to ensure easy access to cash during holidays.
He said banks’ management in the state had promised the council that withdrawing of cash during the holidays would not be difficult for customers.
However, a Banker, Mr Samuel Ogijo, in Lokoja, told NAN that the availability of ATMs in rural areas depended on bank branches, saying most rural dwellers depended mainly on POS merchants.
He added that even where there were ATMs in rural areas, there were usually issues of poor network, cash jams and no cash.
In Port Harcourt, some residents decried the unsteady services at the ATMs in the city during the first day of Eid-el-Kabir holidays, as they faced difficulties accessing money from the machines.
Also in Calabar and Yenagoa, some residents said that they could not describe the hardship they faced while trying to access money from the ATMs, especially during festive holidays
According to them, ”We have suffered serious setbacks while trying to use the ATMs.”
Similar experiences were recorded in Alabama and Benin where customers lamented over poor ATM services.