Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Residents of Mararaba and Masaka of Nasarawa State have decried the lack of money in ATM machines and stoppage of bank operations, saying it was taking a toll on their well being.
In a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus because of the proximity from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nasarawa State government had on April 2nd, imposed a 24 hours on Karu local government of the state with effect from Thursday this week.
Vehicular movement has also been banned from 8 pm to 6 am across the state.
According to the state Governor, Abdullahi Sule: “this is particularly necessary, considering the influx of people from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja which has been locked down as part of measures to control the spread of the pandemic.”
He also said all markets are to remain closed except sellers of food items and medicaments outside the markets except in Karu Local Government Area where there is a 24-hour curfew.
President Muhammadu Buhari had during his address announcing the lockdown exempted financial services operators from Lockdown.
In a joint statement, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had explained that the move was to ease the pains of Nigerians following the 14-day lockdown and ensure that they can still perform online transactions and use ATMs whilst observing the restrictions of movement.
But some residents in Mararaba and Masaka areas of the state, said while they support the state in keeping the disease out of the state, they might like die of hunger if nothing is done.
According to Joyce Joseph who called into radio programme on Aso Radio 93.5FM, “My shop has been under lock and key, the foodstuff I bought I has ran out and no single ATM in the entire area is dispensing cash and no bank is operational.
“How am I and my family supposed to survive? We are not among those being given palliatives, the little money in the bank I can’t get, I cannot go to my shop and there is no food and to top it all, there is no light. So if we don’t die of COVID-19, hunger will kill us. The government should get the banks to operate or put money in the ATM.”
Another resident who spoke to Daily Sun, Esther said: “We understand the whole issue of social distancing. We are seeing reports of what this disease is doing to people in other countries. We know this lockdown is for our own good, but please if we don’t have food to eat, what have we succeeded in downing? We have small children and we have really ran out of food how can we be encouraged to stay home this way.”
Emmanuel, Karu resident said: “Today is Good Friday, we understand we cannot celebrate in our usual manner but why are are we not getting access to cash? No POS operator around me here has cash, ATMs are not dispensing cash and for foodstuff you can’t buy and tell the seller you want to do transfer. We were told banks are exempted from this lockdown but how come we cannot have access to cash?”
Another citizen, Peter said the lockdown policy was done in a hurry. He noted that citizens were given short notice to get essentials before the lockdown. “Those of us that managed to get to shops before the lockdown met
mammoth crowd and couldn’t get anything. I know of people that couldn’t get anything because prices went through the roof and others were trapped in traffic because the security didn’t wait for the actual time before implementing the directives. You know that the people were caught in traffic for hours.”
A resident of Sunnyvale Estate, Joseph Wilcox said: “ATMs in Sunnyvale Estate are empty as well, vegetables sellers around only take cash payments and the non availability of cash is making it difficult to buy some food items. Although the supermarkets and big shops accepts POS payment, we cannot buy fresh vegetables from there because there won’t be as afresh.”
Bimbo Phillips, a resident of nursing estate in Karu said: I had to go to like five POS points before one agreed to having cash. It seems all of them are hoarding cash in fear they might run out of cash in case the ATM experience continues. It’s getting people really anxious.”