The Most Inefficient Service Providers: Banks in Juba

I did not think it was possible, but I think I have actually found the service provider that rivals the Kenyan Immigration Office in its ability to ensure that you do not request a service from them as they are so inefficient (which reminds me, my story of my trip to Kenyan Immigration has not been published yet – but will be done so in due course).

Yesterday, I spent a full 3 hours of my day standing in line at the bank in Juba. It was incredible. Now I realise that part of the problem stems from the fact that South Sudan is trying to introduce a new currency. And this means that people are literally coming into the banks with sacks full of bills. It very much reminded me of a cartoon I used to watch as a child, Dagobert Duck (although, I am sure, like with most cartoons that I watched as a child, this one has a different name in English – Scrouge McDuck or something?!).

I guess this is a symptom of having so few banks in a country (two Kenyan Banks to be exact) and where trust in the systems of deposits has not been established yet, so people hoard money under their mattresses, so to speak.

However, even when we take all this into account (or perhaps because all this should be taken into account), their are still issues that I have with the bank. I mean for one, why do you have only two teller windows open when the line is snaking back on itself 3 times? And that is not because there were no other windows available. In fact, I counted six unmanned windows. Then it appeared that the bill counting machine they had in place could only count the bills if they were all put into the machine in the correct way. This meant that if one bill was out of place, they would have to take all the bills out and start from the beginning again. In the end, it took them longer to count the money with the machine than it actually probably would have done by hand. After a while, I entertained myself by figuring out how long they were taking to serve a customer, so I started timing them (can you tell I was bored?). They hit a grand average of 15 minutes per customer.

To top it all off, the two men standing behind me in the queue complained for THE WHOLE THREE HOURS about the inefficiency of the line. Well to be fair, they interspersed these complaints with complaints regarding the fact that there were no more “How was your experience with us today” customer service forms (surprisingly). I really wish they had been, I would have picked one up and got them to write an piece about their grievances, instead of voicing them to the whole bank – kind of like what I am doing now.

All my talk about the bank and the currency has reminded me that I wanted to highlight my other blog Meanwhile, In Africa as well. In this blog I consider political, economic and other policy issues surrounding Africa.  I have recently been blogging under the title Considerations for a New Country, looking at the various issues surrounding building the country, South Sudan. In the last two posts, I look at what it means to be introducing a new currency.

Happy Reading!

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