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Christmas: ATMs running out of cash

By Godwin Ijediogor and Chijioke Nelson (With Agency Reports)
24 December 2016   |   4:36 am
Less than 24 hours to Christmas, many bank customers yesterday faced hard times trying to make withdrawals at Automated Teller machines (ATMs) for their purchases due to long queues ...
ATM queue

ATM queue

• Many Fear For The Worse During Yuletide
Less than 24 hours to Christmas, many bank customers yesterday faced hard times trying to make withdrawals at Automated Teller machines (ATMs) for their purchases due to long queues and occasional inability of the ATMs to dispense cash, as online banking platforms have been frustrating transactions initiations in the last three days.

This had made many customers to travel from one bank to another to make withdrawals.

Customers living in these areas complained of snag and outright decline to online transactions initiation, a case that has been noticed in over nine banks.

Queues were very long, with majority of customers wearing long faces after several trials and slow response, with reports of transactions failure.

The development, which has already caused panic among customers, was made worse, as all the banks joined the holiday break at the close of work yesterday.

There are fears that the situation could get worse during the celebrations and public holidays, as most banks hardly reload the machines on weekends and public holidays, let alone during the Yuletide.

This means that official intervention can only be possible at the end of the holiday break on Tuesday.

In most parts of Lagos, especially in places with high population density, the queues have been frustrating, with some customers bemoaning their fate and wondering how they were going to be able to make merriment tomorrow.

At Festac, Okota, Ikotun, Surulere, Oshodi, Ikotun, Idimu, Egbeda, Airport road and some parts of Ikeja, most of the ATMs had been running out of cash since Tuesday, with customers trooping in to make cash withdrawals sometimes as early as 6:00 am.

It has become common sight to see customers trekking from bank to bank in search of functional ATMs, irrespective of the banks, to beat the rush and make withdrawals.

Most have different tales and some have indeed been spending more money on transport fares in attempts to make withdrawals.

In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), customers yesterday decried lack of money in many ATMs.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) also observed long queues in most of the banks in the city.

Some of the banks include United Bank for Africa (UBA), First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FBN), Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) in Area 3; Ecobank, Gwarinpa and Zenith Bank in Dutse; and Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Sterling Bank, First City Monument Bank and Access Bank in Garki.

A customer at the First Bank in Area 3, Mrs. Esther Uche, said she had been waiting under the sun for over 20 minutes and had not been able to make withdrawal.

“The bank management is aware of the usual chaos during every festivity and ought to have made adequate provision, especially regarding availability of funds in ATMs,” she said.

A customer at the GTB, Mr. Gabriel Okwoche, said it was unfortunate that the banks had not been meeting customers’ demands.

Okwoche said he did not expect the queue at the banks, as many Nigerians complain about the recession and lack of money in circulation.

At the UBA, a customer, Miss Joy Edoh, told NAN that she had been to about four banks’ ATMs in Garki and unable get make withdrawals due to lack of cash in the machines.

Edoh said at the Access Bank in Garki, she and other customers waited for 30 minutes and when it got to her turn, the machine stopped dispensing cash.

“I am happy that the UBA ATMs are all working and I am sure to get money in the next five minutes,” she enthused.

At Union Bank, no customer was seen at the ATMs, as they were not dispensing cash.

At Diamond Bank, many customers were seen in the banking hall and there was a long queue of customers at the ATMs.

There were long queues at the Ecobank ATMs in Gwarinpa, with some already frustrated customers leaving the premises in annoyance.

One of them, Mr. John Johnson, called on the management of the various banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to do something about the queues at the banks.

“Today is December 23 and we have all the remaining days of the holiday to contend with and we are already experiencing insufficient funds. I wonder what we will face during the holidays.

“I implore the management of all the banks to ensure that the ATMs are loaded with cash. If this is not done, customers are bound to suffer during this Christmas celebration,” Johnson said.

Another customer at Ecobank, Mr. Emmanuel Adejo, said he was at the bank’s head office in Wuse 2, but could not withdraw.

According to Adejo, a bank official said the bank had insufficient funds, as CBN did not release enough money to it.

A customer at Zenith Bank in Dutse, Miss Talatu Abraham, said she was impressed that most ATMs at the bank were dispensing cash.

Abraham said that the bank was the only bank within the Dutse-Alhaji axis and was always crowded due to that fact of dispensing.