• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Commuters groan as ATMs run out of cash

Commuters groan as ATMs run out of cash

Commuters were stranded Wednesday as many Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Lagos failed to dispense cash, leaving them cashless for simple transactions like transport.

Several ATMs attached to banks in the port city of Apapa were not dispensing naira notes, leaving customers stranded. Bank ATMs in some other parts of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, were also not dispensing cash, according to findings by our correspondents.

This comes barely one week to the January 31 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to replace the country’s high-value currency notes in a bid to mop up excess cash, make monetary policy more effective and tame inflation.

The CBN said the maximum cash withdrawal per week via ATM shall be N100,000 subject to a maximum of N20,000 per day, adding that only denominations of N200 and below shall be loaded into the ATMs.

The new policy has brought pain to Nigerians who are unable to access the new notes amid a biting scarcity. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, however said at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on Tuesday that the move was helping to curb rising insecurity.

He said there was no going back on the January 31 deadline, despite complaints of a scarcity of new notes.

Esther Igwe, a commuter who works at Apapa, visited GTB, Keystone and Zenith Bank, all in Liverpool Apapa, Lagos, but there was no cash in those ATMs.

Daniel Adeyemo, a resident of Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos, told one of our correspondents that he visited four banks on CMD Road on Wednesday morning but none of the ATMs was dispensing cash.

Some commuters expressed their frustration, saying it had become a trend since the deadline was set.

Ibrahim Adeniyi, who lives on the Island, said he had been unable to withdraw cash since Monday, leaving him stranded as there wasn’t enough cash for commuting.

“I don’t have cash to go home; I had to look for someone who had cash so that I can make a transfer in order to get home; even that was difficult as people are not ready to part with their new naira notes,”Adeniyi said.

Some commuters had to resort to Point of Sale (POS) agents to get cash after the ATMs disappointed them.

“Since I can’t make use of the ATM, I had to withdraw using the POS and pay POS charges for old naira notes,” Atinke Adeboye, a worker, said.

Money in circulation in Nigeria declined for the first time in a pre-election year since 1998 following the CBN’s decision to redesign some notes, a confirmation of the scarcity of cash in Africa’s biggest economy.

The amount of cash circulating in the economy dipped 4 percent to N3.16 trillion last November compared to the previous month, according to CBN data.

Some Nigerians have resorted to hoarding the new naira notes ahead of the deadline that’s in less than a week.

Matthew Oladipupo, a trader, is carefully spending the cash he has at hand.

“I’m being calculative with the cash I have at hand, as I don’t want to be stranded since I can’t withdraw money,” Oladipupo said.

Damilola Ajagbe, a worker, said she had to queue at an ATM in Ketu for over one hour because she did not have cash to transport herself to work.

“I spent over one hour at the ATM this morning, because I have been unable to withdraw for some day and I had no cash to take me to work,”Ajagbe said.

The current fuel scarcity has continued to bite, resulting in a spiral effect as commuters lament the hike in transportation fare.

Kehinde Oladele, another commuter, said he waited for his boss so that he could follow him, to avoid being stranded.

“I waited for my boss to give me a ride to save costs because transport fare is killing, and I can’t withdraw money,” Oladele said.

Some Nigerians who have been able to withdraw the new notes from ATMs told BusinessDay that they would avoid transacting with them before the deadline for the expiration of the old notes.

“I withdrew N20,000 and I have no intention to spend it before the deadline,” an ATM user said.

Fidelity Bank has sent an email to its customers informing them the CBN has revised its daily cash withdrawal limit on ATM from N100,000 to N20,0000, effective January 23, 2023.

“Please be informed that the CBN has revised its daily cash withdrawal limit on ATM from N100,000 to N20,0000 effective January 23rd 2023. This means that you will only be able to withdraw a cumulative daily amount of 20,000 from your account across all ATMs irrespective of the bank,” it said.

Read also: Naira redesign: new era is now cashless says CBN

Initially, the maximum cash withdrawal over the counter by individuals and corporate organisations per week was N100,000 and N500,000 respectively, which was previously announced on December 6, 2022. The CBN however revised the cash withdrawal limits which became effective on January 9, 2023.

Individuals and corporate entities can now withdraw a maximum of N500,000 and N5 million respectively over the counter and withdrawals above these limits will now attract processing fees of 3 percent and 5 percent, respectively, and third-party cheques above N100,000 will not be eligible for payment over the counter, while extant limits of N10,000,000 on clearing cheques will subsist.

The cash withdrawal limits followed the redesign of N200, 500, and N1,000 notes. The new notes were introduced into the economy on December 15, 2022, while commercial banks were directed to return existing denominations.

President Muhammad Buhari has said the time frame provided is sufficient to exchange old notes for new naira notes, and there is no turning back.