File

By our Correspondent

Commercial banks operating in Nigeria have flouted Federal Government’s directive to them to resume full and normal banking operations more than 48 hours after in line with the second phase of easing of lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus.

Chairman, Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa had Monday, announced a partial lifting of ban on religious gatherings. He had also directed that banks should resume normal operations while hotels and other entertainment businesses should resume skeletal operations, all of which took effect June 2, 2020.

But our Correspondent, who visited branches of some banks in Lagos Wednesday, reported that while many branches are still under lock and key, many customers were sighted outside sitting under canopies provided by the banks, an indication that they are yet to resume normal operation in line with the directive.

A customer at one of the branches of a bank on Lagos Island, who spoke to our Correspondent on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that she had been sitting under the canopy for over two hours, without being attended to.

She disclosed that she came to verify something at the Customer Care unit of the bank and was given a number by the security men on arrival, but expressed frustrations that she was yet to be attended to more than two hours after.

“I took permission from the office to sort out something at the Customer Care unit. I had projected that I might not spend more than one hour to get that done, but I have spent over two hours and yet I have not been attended to.

“In fact since I came here, only two persons have been called in among those that have things to do with the Customer Care unit and they have been calling me from the office. My worry is that it is already past 12 noon and they will close 2pm and if I don’t get this done today, I will have to start afresh tomorrow”, she lamented.

Meanwhile, an official of the branch, who also spoke in confidence, disclosed that customers are given numbers based on the type of transaction you want to carry out like the Customer Care issues, deposits and withdrawals as well as foreign exchange transactions in order to ensure orderliness.

According to her, what the management does is to streamline the number of customers that come into the bank  at a given time in line with the physical distancing protocol, adding that five persons from the segments-Customer Care issues, deposits, withdrawals and foreign exchange  are called in at a time and that new people are called in based on the number that has left having completed their transactions from any of the four groups.

She said: “It is equally very challenging for the staffers of the bank. It is truly a difficult time both for the customers and the bank itself. While our tellers try as much as possible to attend to those that want to withdraw or deposit money promptly, it might not be as quick for those at the Customer Care because the customers themselves contribute to the delay. I must also confess to you that the network is also a major challenge sometimes”.

Investigations also show that some banks have reduced their workforce due to the effects of the COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown, thus leaving many tables unmanned with the attendant long queues of customers waiting outside to be attended to under the scotching sun.