Most bank branches lack customers

Most bank branches lack customers

Bankers had mixed experiences on Sunday when banks were open for two hours amid a countrywide shutdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Most branches of different banks in the capital lacked customers as people were not interested in going out of their homes in the midst of this pandemic.

Only a few branches got a significant number of customers, most of whom were traders who wanted to deposit their cash as banks had been closed for the previous three days since Thursday.

Like many other countries, Bangladesh has enforced a shutdown starting on March 26.

Banks have been asked to provide a limited number of services from 10am to 12noon during the shutdown.

This correspondent went to a number of branches on Sunday and talked to bankers and customers who said they had to struggle to reach the branches in the absence of public transportation. Even CNG-run auto-rickshaws, taxis and ride-sharing services were not available.

An official at Dutch-Bangla Bank's Dilkusha branch said despite the high temperature,he had to make his way to the office on foot from Shahabag – a distance of around 4 kilometres.

Md Allama Iqbal, first assistant vice-president and manager (operation) of Islami Bank's Baridhara branch, said, "I have my own vehicle, but most of my colleagues don't. Some have come from Uttara and Mirpur. They faced various inconveniences."

A female banker said that she and her colleague shared a CNG-run auto rickshaw to get to work.

Nahid Hossain, an employee of Firm Fresh Milk, a concern of Akij Group, went to a bank by motorcycle to deposit some cash collected from their dealers.

"We could not deposit the cash that was collected over the last three days because banks were closed," he added.

Dutch-Bangla Bank's Karwan Bazar branch was crowded, with more than 50 customers waiting for service at around 11:45am. A customer said he came to the bank by cycle to withdraw money.

National Bank's Dilkusha branch also had a large crowd. Branch Manager Habibur Rahman said, "Both cash deposits and withdrawals are going well since morning, though bankers had some difficulty in coming to work."

However, AB Bank's principle branch at Motijheel did not have any customers around 11am. Branch Head Shawkat Aziz said, "We did not get many customers but we did get a few large value cheques. We are collecting cash from the Bangladesh Bank to encash the cheques."

Last week, banks faced a huge rush of cash withdrawals from their branches and ATM booths ahead of the shutdown. So the need for cash transactions at banks may not be very much now. Anyone who needs cash can get it from an ATM booth.

As per the Bangladesh Bank instruction, banks are not required to keep all their branches open, and can bring in employees on a rotational basis.