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By Mulengera Reporters 

Orient bank is currently undergoing some changes as new shareholders are coming on board. Covid19-related restrictions have in some way complicated service delivery too leaving thousands of customers grumbling. First of all, in order to comply with the President’s lockdown restrictions, the bank closed many of its branches in Kampala. And the idea is to have only 30% workers as others remain at home.

In fact, in an email sent to us this Friday afternoon one of the disgruntled customers says it’s only two branches that are currently open and operational to serve their Orient bank clientele in the whole of Kampala and this is Main branch and the one at Kololo near the Airstrip. This has resulted into long queues as all customers, previously served at the other branches, have to converge there.

What has made matters even worse is the fact that even at the two branches which are open, there are very few tellers/staffers whereby most of the customer service points at the counters are vacant without staff being there to deliver the service.

“The opening hours were changed from 8am to 9am and the closing time too was shortened from 5pm to 3pm. This has created a lot of suffering to us bank customers because the queues are simply too long. It’s like the menace Stanbic used to be to us those days of campus when it used to monopolize fees collection because it’s the only place tuition had to be paid. We suffered those days as young people at Makerere. Orient bank has brought back that memory moreover in this difficult of Covid19 when everybody is already having enough stress,” says the female Orient bank customer in an email send to us this Friday afternoon. She pleaded strict anonymity which we must grant.

The customer disclosed many other things pointing at decline in quality of service Orient bank has lately been condemning them to. Indeed, when our reporter rushed to the two branches (Kololo & Main branch) in a bid to verify the whistle blower claims contained in the mail we had received, she found scenes that only corroborated stuff contained in the mail we had earlier received. “At the main branch opposite former Nandos, I found a lot of people seated and lined up in the small tent outside the branch and the security guards from Saracen were at hand to contain a near riotous situation,” says the reporter.

“One woman threatened to strip herself naked to show displeasure. She kept shouting at the security guards as she demanded to be let in asserting that she had an emergency to attend to and yet they had kept her here for too long. She said she was tired of spending so much time in the Orient bank queues just to access her own money as if she was a beggar. She was supported by many with another woman saying that the way things had changed at Orient, because of very few staff at the serving counters, one needed to sacrifice a whole day in the line in order to access their own money.”

Our reporter says some of the customers inside both the tent and the equally long queues inside the banking hall accused the bank of conducting business in a way that only increases everyone’s susceptibility to catching Coronavirus as opposed to mitigating the same. “We are being crowded inside like primary school children in those long lines. This defeats the idea of lockdown and all the efforts the government is undertaking to contain Corona. There is no social distancing inside those banking halls, no sanitizer and we are even denied access to toilet facilities yet you have to be inside there in those congested banking halls for a whole day. This is not safe for both customers and the bank staff themselves. Some of the young men and women working in the bank don’t even have masks on and it’s all chaos,” says an aggrieved customer.

Another one, an old man who seemed like an old retired civil servant who we met and interacted with in the parking said even the idea of corporate banking doesn’t make sense anymore at Orient bank “because they take your Shs15,000 for using what they call corporate services section but you end up staying there the whole day in the small room where they crowd all of us yet the idea of me going to use that corporate section is to be there for a very short time and save my working time.”

The old man, saying he had lost several hours of his Friday afternoon inside Orient Bank Main branch, implored Bank of Uganda (being the regulator) to inquire into the situation so that innocent customers and staff don’t get exposed to Covid19 just like that. “I’m not sure about the situation in other banks. I’m talking about Orient because that’s where I go. I have a friend who banks with Centenary and when I asked him he said there things are a lot better and more organized,” the old man concluded. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at 




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