PORT HARCOURT – CHARITY Emeriwen, a Port Harcourt resident, in her early forties, had her mind made up to spend last Christmas week in Warri, Delta State, her place of birth. All set to leave town Wednesday of the week before, she had only some cash draw in one of the second generation banks where she does more of saving and no withdraws.
From her predominantly residential Marine Base neighbourhood where there is no bank close by, she had rushed to the popular Lagos Road in Port Harcourt City where her account is domiciled. A pole to the bank, she was greeted by long, snaking queue of customers extending rapidly.
“God of mercy” she had exclaimed as the last man on the queue explained, “This is ATM (Automated Teller Machine) line and don’t even consider going in over the counter. It’s jammed and stuffy in there.”
Not really disposed to regular use of the ATM, she had moved on to the next of many bank branches that lined the road, hoping the frustrating queue at her bank was just one bad isolated case. Her next stop staged a longer queue on the ATM. Uncertain about what the next trial might present; she took a turn on the queue.
Five customers before her in the enervating wait for her turn, the man at the cash dispenser was taking an abnormally too longtime to finish his transaction. “Wetin again-o” the next man in line had asked the man on the machine. “I really don’t understand”, came the response frontline.
“Machine said please wait while your transaction is processing, suddenly it became “machine temporarily unable to dispense cash. The worse is my card won’t come out”, the frustrated customer grumbled. In frustration, Charity like many others on the queue left home angrily. She returned a little after dawn next day to get her cash over the counter before making her Warri bound journey a day later than planned.
Machines fast losing the “quick service” relevance
Charity’s experience tells the pains and frustrations ATMs constitute for Port Harcourt residents lately. Over the past Yuletide, it expectedly got worse with the increased bank withdrawals. Mr. Joachim Akore, a chartered accountant told Vanguard Features, VF, that “What is happening is a case of increasing number of persons doing ATM against non proportionate provision of more machines.”
According to the financial expert, “When the ATMs were introduced in the Nigerian Banking system, it was greeted by profound apathy by the predominantly ignorant customers coupled with the frustration with delay in procuring a transaction card. The few who embraced it enjoyed the quick self service.
Today, with an ATM card issued within minutes of request, everyone is joining the bandwagon. The frustrations with the long queues tell us we do not have enough ATMs machines.” He noted that in Lagos, improved security has encouraged proliferation of ATMs in almost everywhere outside the banks making the convenience of using the machines less worrisome.