ABIA, JULY 6, 2016 – Bank customers in Umuahia, the Abia capital, have continued to besiege Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) in large numbers since Friday due to the extended public holidays in the state.The Abia Government had declared July 1 and July 4 as public holiday in honour of the former Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, who died recently in Abuja.
The Federal Government also initially declared Tuesday and Wednesday as public holiday to mark the Eid-el-Fitr celebration but the holiday was extended to Thursday due to the non-sighting of the moon to mark the end of the Ramadan fast.
An Umuahia-based businessman, Mr Obioma Okorie, said that the five-day holiday, in addition to the weekend, had left everybody cash-strapped.
“We have been under serious financial stress in the last few days in Abia,” Okorie said.
A correspondent who monitored the situation in Umuahia, reports that virtually all the ATMs in the town were functional and each of them had a large turnout of customers waiting for their turn.
It was observed that majority of the customers came to either make withdrawal or transfer.
A policeman, Mr Peter Chinedu, disclosed that the long holiday “has put Abia residents under unneccesary financial pressure”.
“I have gone to the bank’s branch on Uzuakoli Road but the ATM was not working.
“When I walked up to the bank closeby, the ATM was working but the queue was very long so I decided to come to Bank Road.”
Chinedu, who said that he wanted to transfer money to a relation, expressed regret that he could not succeed because of technical hitches.
“It is either the machine is temporarily unable to dispense cash or it is temporarily out of service,” he said, adding: “This has been the experience since the weekend.”
A petty trader, Mrs Gladys Okoro, expressed concern over the financial crisis in the state, wondering how residents, who do not have ATM card, would cope with the situation.
“I have small money in my bank account but I cannot access it because I don’t have ATM,” Okoro said.
She said that she depended on her husband and elder brother to sustain her family and small business.
A senior staff member of a new generation bank told NAN on the condition of anonymity, that the banks were poised to meet the challenge posed by the long holiday.
“Banks are not under pressure. When the ATM runs out of cash, it automatically sends a message to your cellphone.
“Once you receive the message, you are duty bound to go and refill the machine.
“It is a sin and indeed illegal for you not to reload or ignore the message, unless your machine is faulty,” she said.