Friday, September 1, 2017 8:51 pm
Bank customers in some states of the North-East on Friday lamented over insufficient number of Automated Teller Machines (ATM), poor network and slow dispensing of cash by the machines under pressure.
A cross section of them told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bauchi, Gombe, Maiduguri, Dutse and Yola that they encountered difficulties withdrawing cash during periods of festivities.
Apart from the inadequacy of the machines, some of the few available ones were either non-functional or never stocked with enough cash.
They added that most times, poor network also worsened the already precarious situation.
In Bauchi, bank customers experienced difficulties withdrawing money from the machines during the break, due to poor network service.
NAN Correspondents who went round the Bauchi metropolis reported that although there were no long queues at ATM withdrawal points, it took each customer several minutes to remove money due to network challenge.
Some of the customers, who spoke to NAN, said they were surprised that most of the ATMs had enough cash, unlike previous occasions when most of them (machines) were empty.
“It took me over three hours to withdraw cash on Sallah day and I needed the money to buy certain things; the major challenge was network problem,” Aishatu Usman said.
Another customer, Abdullahi Kabiru, said that the banks had made adequate cash provisions as most of the machines had money, but also lamented the problem of poor network.
“It’s like this problem of network is common during the rainy season, especially August; the banks need to work out a permanent solution,” Kabiru said.
Kabiru said he spent four hours on Sallah day “waiting for the network to improve”.
Days after the payment of workers salaries in Yobe, many could not withdraw cash from the machines to buy animals and prepare for the Sallah celebration.
NAN reports that long queues of people were seen at the ATM points in Damaturu, waiting to withdraw money in vain.
Alhaji Ali Mohammed, a civil servant, described his experience as harrowing.
“I had to wait for over six hours to withdraw cash.”
In Gombe, customers called for the installation of additional machines to ease their hardships.
One of the customers, Malam Umar Abubakar, said withdrawal of money during public holidays was difficult as there were no enough machines to serve the influx of customers.
Another customer, Mr. Auwal Yahya, also made similar suggestion, adding that additional machines in strategic places would reduce congestion and the risk of customers losing their money to hoodlums.
He said he spent over four hours in the queue without accessing the machine, adding that he was ‘number 376’ on the queue.
He said that it was the same story in most other banks he visited, adding it was either there was no cash or network service was poor.
Also, Mr Markus Ali attributed some of the hitches to impatience of some selfish customers who were always in a hurry.
Ali observed that most times, such customers were unwilling to join the queue, but rather, would prefer to ‘shunt’, thereby creating chaos.
He observed that some customers were in the habit of coming with many cards and therefore took more than their fair share of the precious time, withdrawing money for themselves and others by proxy.
Commenting on the probem, Mr Philips Jesimah, Regional Manager, Eco Bank Plc, Gombe branch, said most banks usually prepared ahead of such festivities by ensuring the availability of cash in the machines.
With regards to network challenges, he said they had no control over the situation, but often did their best to minimise the challenge.
Jesimah said security men in the bank were well trained to ensure safety of customers and their money.
Bank customers in Maiduguri were also not spared from the alleged poor network service.
A cross section of them decried the failure of the machines to dispense cash when in need.
Alhaji Dauda Abubakar, a customer, said he could not withdraw money with his ATM (debit) card due to poor network and lack of fund in the machines.
“Often the network is poor in the few available machines, resulting in long queues and inconveniences to customers,” he said.
Another customer, Babangida Zayad, blamed the banks for exposing their customers to unnecessary hardships, saying he spent many hours on queue without getting money from the instrument.
“We are often subjected to hardships due to lack of functional ATM machines to meet the growing number of customers.
“Bank customers from about 20 local government areas of the state come to Maiduguri for ATM transactions and the machines are inadequate,” Zayad said.
He advised banks to provide additional machines in the metropolis to address the difficulties.
In Dutse, customers also expressed disappointment over the inefficiency of the machines installed within and around bank premises.
A cross section of them told NAN that the machines were not serving the purpose for which they were installed, especially in times of ”emergency withdrawal of cash”.
One of the customers, Malam Adamu Saleh, observed that whereas there were enough machines, few were often loaded with cash, as a result of which congestion always occurred.
He said the situation became unbearable during public holidays, with customers spending hours to withdraw money from few machines stashed with money.
Another customer, Mrs Rahab Waziri, also said that customers often encountered difficulties withdrawing through the machines during public holidays.
Rahab said that customers from neighboring states of Kano and Bauchi came to Dutse to withdraw money through the ATM because of the overcrowding of such machines in Kano.
A bank manager in Dutse, who preferred anonymity, said it was true that ATMs were not stashed with enough money because most of them (ATM) were obsolete.
He said most of the currencies that were available for loading in the machines were very old and that even if they were stashed in the machines, they could not be withdrawn as they were not crisp.
“The CBN is not printing new notes now, especially the N500 notes. That is one of the major challenges,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Henry Nwaogu, Technical Manager of Fidelity Bank, Yola branch, said the menace of insurgents was one of the major reasons for challenges in withdrawing cash from the machines in the state.
He said their targeting of banks for destruction in some parts of the state had brought overwhelming pressure on banking facilities.
He, however, said that Fidelity bank had been doing its best to maintain the ATM machines to satisfy its customers.