•Motorists, traders protest hike in pump price, currency scarcity

Some residents of Enugu State have lamented the current cash scarcity in parts of the state, following the implementation of cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), some of the residents decried the non-availability of cash and what they called wholesale exploitation by POS operators.

This followed the decision of the CBN to shift the deadline for the resting of the of old naira notes from January  31 to Feb.10.

The residents had expressed concern over the failure of commercial banks to dispense the new naira notes.

Mr Okonkwo Agbo, from Nsukka Local Government Area of the state, lamented that the situation in the villages was worse due to lack of commercial bank branches in the rural areas.

“As I speak, we are stranded here in the village because even the nearest POS agents don’t have money to dispense.

“No money to even buy Maggi to cook, not to talk of buying some other things,” he said.

Mrs Esther Anieke, a POS operator, who resides at 9th Mile corner in Udi Local Government Area of the state, said that she had no money to give to her customers.

“Yesterday, I spent more than eight hours in the bank only to get N20,000 and within 30 minutes after arriving at my shop, the money was exhausted.

“So, it is a serious problem. In fact, I am planning to lock the shop and head back home,” she said.

Also speaking, Mr Ibeabuchi Nweke, a resident, complained that he went to an ATM point to withdraw money but couldn’t find a way through.

‘I decided to withdraw across the counter. Surprisingly, I was given only N2,000 of N50 note. It’s heartbreaking. Honestly, I don’t understand,” he said.

Many POS operators now take advantage of the situation to demand higher charges from customers.According to a resident, Mr Erasmus Nwadike, a legal practitioner, POS operators now charge as high as 20 per cent commission on each withdrawal.

“I went to withdraw money and paid N2,000 charges on N10,000. I wonder what is happening in Nigeria,” he said.

However, a POS operator, Miss Elizabeth Nwoye, said that the reason for the high commission was due to the process of getting the cash from the banks.

“It is not easy to get the cash out of the bank. We go the extra mile to get the money. So, if anyone is not ready, others are ready,” she said. 

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Meanwhile, some motorists and traders in Enugu State on Wednesday protested the increase in pump price and scarcity of new naira notes in banks.

The protesters said the filling station owners kept hiking the prices on daily basis while others hoard theirs.

The protest also spread to Ogbete Market, Ogui Road, New Haven and Independence Layout which forced shops and some offices were seen closed for fear of looting and destruction.

The protesters were seen discharging passengers from incoming buses as a way of forcing them to join the protest while private vehicles put green leaves in their cars in solidarity.

They noted that the scarcity of new Naira notes in banks which had made life difficult for people to transact businesses.

Many filling stations are now selling a litre  of fuel for between N450 and N500 while some others were closed. Some of the drivers said the suffering they were going through to get  fuel that God blessed Nigeria with was too much for them stressing that something needed to be done urgently to salvage the situation.

A tricycle rider, Emeka Ugwu, said that incessant increase in pump price was no longer acceptable, noting that filling station owners/ marketers took Nigerians for granted.

“How can we buy fuel N400 yesterday and today it has risen to N500, and we the motorists are saying no to impunity.

“By tomorrow, if they did not return to the normal price, we will give out their fuel to people free of charge,” he threatened.

Another driver who simply gave his name as Emmanuel said they were just expressing their anger over certain anomalies in the state.

He said, “If you want to buy fuel, they will tell you to use Point of Sales (POS) whereas, the queue is much and if you go to bank you will spend the whole day before it will get to your turn”.

Chidiebere Njoku called on governments to make the product available, appealed to oil marketers in the state to start selling their product to alleviate their plight.

He added that, “If I buy fuel at N500, how much will i tell the passenger i am carrying to pay,” he asked.

A trader, Mrs Obiageli Chikwelu, said she could not buy her wares due to lack of cash adding that bank apps were not working due to network problems.

NAN reports that the chaos forced many filling stations and some   shops and offices to close to avoid destruction.

Meanwhile, police operatives were seen in New Haven trying to stop the protest from escalating.