By Adewale Sanyaolu
Barely two months after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave approval to Travelex, a global foreign exchange dealer, to sell Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) and Personal Travel Allowance (PTA) to intending travellers, Daily Sun investigation revealed that acute shortage of dollars may have hit the firm.
The development has left hundreds of travellers stranded as a result of the inability of Travelex to provide them withthe required foreign exchange.
An official of Travelex at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, who pleaded not to be named because he was not authorised to speak, told Daily Sun that for about 12 days, the global forex dealer has been unable to attend to the requests of passengers.
Besides Travelex, majority of other CBN licensed Bureaux De Change (BDCs) are equally without forex to disburse to end users.
Some travellers, who spoke to Daily Sun at the international wing of the airport, expressed their frustrations, saying they might suspend their trips because of their inability to source the hard currency.
A passenger aboard a KLM flight to Amsterdam enroute to Houston, who identified herself simply as Judith, said she blamed the management of Travelex for not communicating with the members of the public, either through advertorial, radio jingles or television to keep them abreast of the development so that they could make alternative arrangement.
Another traveller on Lufthansa, Mr. Kunle Odedina, faulted the shoddy arrangement on the part of Travelex, saying it could have saved hundreds of passengers the embarrassing situation.
But when contacted, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications of CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said the forex given to Travelex and licensed BDCs are inflows from International Money Transfer Organisation (IMTO), adding that once the inflow is not forthcoming, such would affect disbursement to Travelex and other BDCs.
On his part, Media Consultant to Travelex, Mr. Festus Masajuwa, explained that there was no stock available to sell to travellers, adding that replenishment was being awaited from CBN.
‘‘The truth is that we don’t have control over what CBN does. It is whatever they give to us that we sell, but for now, we are out of stock. We have been asking them for forex, and all they keep telling us is that they will get back to us. But I believe we should have supply before the end of the week,’’ he said.
The CBN, in its circular of August 9,2016, on the sale of forex proceeds of IMTOs to BDCs, stated that authorised dealers shall sell forex cash to BDCs subject to a maximum of $30,000 to a BDC per week.
The circular added that a BDC shall nominate its preferred authorised dealer and can only procure the said amount from that bank of its choice in a week.
The bank said the rate by the authorised dealers to BDCs shall be the buying rate from IMTOsß plus a margin not exceeding 1.5 per cent.