HomeNewsLocalThe ‘Kingdom’ bank queue agony

The ‘Kingdom’ bank queue agony

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SCORES of people have set up camp at AfrAsia Bank (formerly Kingdom), where they are spending nights in queues hoping they could withdraw as little as $50 the following day, in scenes reminiscent of the cash crisis of 2007 and 2008.

BATANAI MUTASA
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Pushing and shoving have become commonplace at the bank, with irate clients breaking the bank’s glass door several times.

“I will never take the easy route out, especially when it comes to money because I am now paying the cost,” Vengesai Matsa charged as he stood in the winding queue last Friday.

“These guys made it easy to open accounts and we thought they were cutting corners.”

AfrAsia Bank is facing acute solvency and cash crises and this has forced it to limit withdrawal amounts to between $50 and $100.

The pavement outside the bank’s Bulawayo city centre branch is lined with cardboard boxes where people are usually seen sleeping, squatting or standing around outside the building.

“People are sleeping here overnight with the hope of getting some money, but I have been coming for the past three days without any luck,” an elderly woman who sat coiled outside the bank on Friday afternoon, said. “They always give us numbered cards. However, the money sometimes does not come. There are so many people with cards such that in essence we are queuing for cards, which we will, maybe, use to collect cash tomorrow (Saturday).”

To add insult to injury, the bank charges $3 per transaction, meaning to withdraw $400, clients have to pay as much as $12.

While the scenario outside the bank was a sorry sight on Friday, it was worse inside the building where more people were sleeping on the floor.

Others stood patiently in the queue, but sadly there was no money and there were no withdrawals taking place.

Only two tellers were stationed in their cubicles, engrossed in conversation with each other, while the enquiries clerk was at pains to address questions from a woman who voiced her disapproval about the situation.

“I always come here to deposit cash into our school account and now you tell us there is no cash, how?” she charged.

“You should have an arrangement where every branch keeps a buffer cash reserve for its bulk cash depositors, because we need it to operate and it’s too risky to hold no to large amounts.”

All the clerk could offer, in response, was that even the bank staff could not answer her questions. Last month, AfrAsia spokesperson Sekai Chitemerere said branches had to introduce intermittent daily withdrawal limits to ensure all clients accessed the available cash.

However, clients told Southern Eye that the situation was getting worse every day.

One client, Costa Nkomo, said the situation had deteriorated to the extent that the cash was not available most of the times even though there were limits.

“What this bank should do is accept defeat and close down. It is better to know there is nothing than for us to chase shadows,” he said. “Right now I spend the little money I had to come here and since I spend the whole day I also buy food.

“In the meantime my family is hungry at home. As you can see everyone is dejected. This is very painful. I have decided to patiently withdraw all my money and move to a better bank.”

AfrAsia bank recently rebranded from Kingdom Bank following a 62,5% share takeover by AfrAsia Bank Mauritius (ABM) and is also making frantic efforts to raise $100 million in fresh capital.

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