By Louis Ibah
More than 48 hours after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directed banks to open foreign currency retail outlets at major airports across the country, passengers travelling out through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, yesterday, still comlained of acute scarcity of foreign exchange (forex) which remained out of reach of most people.
Although, three banks – Skyebank, First Bank and Zenith Bank currently operate at the Lagos airport – non of them was selling foreign exchange when Daily Sun visited the offices at the Lagos airport. It was observed that though several passengers had besieged the banks to buy forex, they were told by officials that the banks were yet to be supplied with dollars and pounds to enable them sell to passengers.
“We are yet to get the supplies of forex from our headquarters. Some passengers have been coming to make enquiries on when we will start but we keep telling them that we are working on how to meet the requirements,” said a manager at one of the banks’ branches who declined to give his name.
“Sometimes we refer them to our branches closest to them where forex transactions are done. But at this our airport branch, we are optimistic that before Friday we will start selling forex to air travellers in line with the new CBN directive,” he added.
One passenger who simply identified himself as Olusegun said he came around to make enquiries to know if the banks had started selling forex to passengers with valid travel documents.
“I will be travelling to Dubai next week Wednesday and I have all the documents here. But I just came to ask if and when they will start selling dollars. They told me they are not yet ready because they are still sorting out some issues,” Olusegun said.
Daily Sun also visited some of the registered Bureau de Change outlets at the airport where it was discovered that none of them had dollars to sell to customers. At both the Sulah Bureau de Change and Bossy Clean Exchange, located inside the departure halls of the MMIA, officials at the counters told Daily Sun that they had no dollars to trade with.
“Our exchange rate here is N400-$1. But we couldn’t sell dollars to anyone today because we don’t have any. We can take dollars in exchange of the naira,” said an official at Bossy Clean Exchange.