THE prevailing scarcity of cash worsened, weekend, with banks lamenting low cash supply from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Also, customers were worst hit, as many of them could not withdraw cash after visits to many bank branches and ATMs.
Vanguard investigation showed that bank customers encountered either empty ATMs in most bank branches or severe cash rationing for withdrawals.
Confirming the development, a bank customer who spoke to Vanguard, Charles Ogundipe, said: “I am in the habit of making withdrawals from the ATM at weekends, particularly on Sundays. This is because there is less congestion.
“But on today (yesterday), I was unable to obtain cash from any of the bank ATMs I visited on Lagos mainland.
“I first went to the UBA Matori branch in Papa Ajao, Mushin, where I gathered that the ATM machines were not dispensing. I was advised by the bank’s security men to check back around noon.
“I went to the nearby UBA branch on Ladipo St, but the story was the same, no cash in the ATMs.
“There were no less than 10 different bank branches on Ladipo Street, Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State. I visited them one by one. I visited the branches of GTB, Fidelity, Access Bank, FirstBank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC, Zenith Bank, and Keystone Bank. But none of their ATMs were dispensing cash.
“I went back to the UBA Matori branch just after 12 noon, only to be told that the situation had not changed. It was the same story at the UBA Ilupeju branch.
“As I drove around moving from the Ilupeju area to Anthony, down to Gbagada, and back, I stopped at each bank branch on my way. All the ATMs were out of cash.
“For more than four hours that I tried to obtain cash from any of the banks I visited. I was not successful. I had no option than to patronise a mobile POS operator at a petrol station.”
Another bank customer, who spoke to Vanguard but on condition of anonymity, said: “I was at the Ilasa branch of Ecobank on Friday to withdraw cash. But I was informed that cash withdrawal is limited to N20,000.”
‘CBN to blame’
But a senior bank official, who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said the cash scarcity and rationing were due to inadequate cash supply from the CBN.
She said: “At my branch, we have five ATMs and we use to load about N8 million in each machine. But now, we load only one machine with N2 million and sometimes N1.5 million which customers withdraw in about one hour.
“Most of the cash loaded into the ATMs are from cash deposits of customers. This is because we barely get cash supply from our hub. I believe that the low supply from the hub is also because they don’t get supply from the CBN.”
Recall that recently, the CBN, in response to complaints of widespread cash shortage said that the seeming currency scarcity was occasioned by large volume withdrawals of cash from various CBN branches by deposit money banks, DMBs.
It said that panic withdrawals by bank customers were also partly responsible for the seeming scarcity.
“The attention of the CBN has been drawn to reports of alleged scarcity of cash at banks, ATMs, PoS and BDCs in some major cities across the country.
“Our findings reveal that the seeming cash scarcity in some locations is due largely to high volume withdrawals from the CBN branches by DMBs and panic withdrawals by customers from the ATMs.