Like prisoners let out of their confinement for the first time in a long time, Lagosians went out in large numbers today. Bus stops, bank premises, and markets were flooded by people who came out en mass to seek their daily bread.
As early as 8 am, bank premises were already full of people seeking to gain entrance into the banking halls for one transaction or the other. And by 11 am, Twitter was filled with so many posts warning Nigerians about the risks of visiting any bank branch due to the mammoth crowd.
— Orisesan Oladimeji A.O. (@TAGOREMMY) May 4, 2020
Later on in the day, a video went viral on Twitter showing a crowd of people outside of the GTBank branch at Masha in Surulere. Many of the replies to the tweet suggested that similar crowds were witnessed at other branches, including the ones at Okota, Ogba, Yaba, and Owutu-Ikorodu.
— D'Flames ? (@OtieraD) May 4, 2020
Union Bank was also flooded by customers. Former Nigerian lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, shared a video showing a crowd of customers outside one of the bank’s branches in Abuja.
Easing the lockdown is a colossal mistake. See GTB and Union Bank in Area 3 in Abuja today. pic.twitter.com/kh9CmwouwZ
— Senator Dino Melaye. (SDM) (@dino_melaye) May 4, 2020
Banks saw this coming
Apparently, many banks must have envisaged that this would happen. As such, they took extra precautions to ensure that the number of people allowed inside the banking halls was limited. This, therefore, explains why so many people were left standing outside the banks, unable to get in.
As you can see in the video below, this bank’s branch had to beef up its security to prevent people from forcing their way in. Much like many other countries the world that is battling the Coronavirus pandemic, social distancing has been one of the approaches adopted in Nigeria. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been adamant about adhering to the guideline.
— AyeMojubar ? (@ayemojubar) May 4, 2020
Earlier this morning, GTBank issued a statement announcing that only 11 branches in Lagos would be open as the lockdown easing begins. A part of the statement said:
“As we re-open our branches following the easing of the lockdown, we will do so gradually and as safely as we can. Selected branches will be open between the hours of 9 am – 3 pm today Monday, May 4, 2020, and 9 am – 2 pm from Tuesday, May 5 to Friday, May 8, 2020.”
As we re-open our branches following the easing of the lockdown, we will do so gradually and as safely as we can.
Selected branches will be open between the hours of 9am – 3pm today Monday, May 4, 2020, and 9am – 2pm from Tuesday, May 5 to Friday, May 8, 2020. pic.twitter.com/zAq4DjPBt0
— Guaranty Trust Bank (@gtbank) May 4, 2020
Other banks also sent emails to their customers encouraging them to still use online channels, as a lot of their branches would remain closed in the meantime. Interestingly, these messages did not achieve anything as many customers still flooded banks.
Why the customers flooded the banks
There are indications that many customers experienced a lot of failed transactions and unreversed funds during the four-week lockdown. This is why they flooded the banks with hopes of rectifying the problem in the banking halls. Recall that an earlier report by Nairametrics noted that quite a number of bank customers were complaining about failed e-banking transactions following the commencement of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Human traffic in other places
Other tweets showed similar crowds queued at designated bus-stops for BRT buses, and some others on pedestrian bridges, without so much as half a metre distance between them.
See day 1 of the ease down in Lagos ?♂️. Dear lagosian,hope you are aware that we don’t have enough testing kits, and bed space at the isolation? Use ur brain o #MaskUpLagos #MayThe4thBeWithYou pic.twitter.com/wRbl0fCP5X
— Osama? (@osirmah) May 4, 2020
The pictures of crowded bus-stops emerged mainly from Ikorodu where the BRTs seem to have a monopoly on transportation. Oddly, the implementation task force set up by the government could not be found in any of these crowded places to maintain order.
Conversely, tweets from Traffic Updates and Crucial Information reported that there was no traffic on the Island part of Lagos, even as many people ensured to wear their face masks. This is a sharp contrast to Ikeja, the state capital, which was literally bogged down with traffic.
What to expect
Although there is visibly high compliance with the government’s directives on mask-wearing, physical distancing, and personal hygiene, the same directives have been breached in many public places. The implications of what this might mean for the nation’s efforts to curb the pandemic can only be best imagined.