Congo: Civil servants swarm banks for late salaries

APA-Brazzaville (Congo)

Several banks in the Congolese capital Brazzaville were on Thursday swarmed by disenchanted civil servants scrambling in long queues to receive their September salaries.

The atmosphere was one of tense commotion in and outside banks, where screeching noises, jostling and crushing fights ensued in desperate bid to reach the cashier's counter first.

All this transpired under oppressive temperatures, rendering the long wait in front of bank counters a torturous affair for many of them.

Clients, many of whom become uptight before they could reach nonchalant cashiers, easily let loose their anger given the slightest provocation, an understandable emotional roller coaster in view of the late payment of wages and the notorious tardiness of cashiers who make heavy work of handing them their money.

Gabriel Ngami, intermittently wiping his face with an over-worn tissue paper, that had grown soggy in the Brazzaville heatwave was especially cross with the bank which he complained operated so slowly that the queue in which he stood had seemed immobile.

"Ah! I am sick and tired of Congolese banks. They’re too slow and take much too long to pay us our wages. It should not take this long under this extreme heat” 50-year-old Ngami blurted in clear frustration.

Gilbert, another tetchy client who was standing inches away in the same queue echoed Ngami's exasperation: “It's only in Congo that you see workers lined up in the street waiting for their salaries. It's deplorable!”

According to him, this unusual spectacle should be blamed on banks boasting of ATMs that have been out of order for a long time.

The problem is compounded by the reluctance of banks to open enough counters to ease the long hours of waiting by customers.

“You can take my word for it that only two or three counters are functioning” said another man in the line, joining the conversation.

Still on bankers, Gilbert Mbani, said he is convinced that they seem to find joy in the discomfort of their clients.

“Look at their smiles as they walk past us,” Gilbert pointed out indignantly in the direction of a listless bank employee ambling along.

This spectacle of endless queues of civil servants waiting for their turn to reach bank counters is a familiar sight in several other finance houses in the city such as the Congolese Banks (LCB), the International Commercial Bank (BCI), the Postal Bank and the Congolese Mutual Savings (MUCODEC).

While waiting to reach the cashier's counter, some while away the time backbiting on bank employees, accusing them of taking bribes from clients who are in a hurry and cant wait it out like their sorry lot.


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