The streets of Gikomba were on Monday filled with a sea of angry traders, as they marched towards B-Smart Sacco, demanding access to their hard-earned savings and loans.
The traders accused the Sacco’s management of deceit and deception, claiming that they were frequently given false promises and lies regarding cash withdrawals and loan applications.
“We have invested our trust and money in this Sacco, yet every time we come to access our funds, we are met with empty promises and deceitful lies,” one victim said.
“We are told to come back on Monday, and when we do, we are informed that the CEO is away on a burial for a month, and when he returns, we are told that the forms have been signed.”
However, the traders of Gikomba are not satisfied with these explanations, and demand immediate access to their savings and loans.
“I have saved for years, yet I have never been granted a loan,” said another trader.
“Every time I apply, they do not give me my money.”
Security officers struggled to contain the angered crowd but the traders were defiant, baying for the blood of the bank manager.
They shouted slogans, their faces contorted with rage, their fists clenched as they pushed against the line of security guards.
The bank manager and his team were nowhere to be seen, having fled the scene, leaving the guards to deal with the situation.
This latest incident is just one of many recent examples of fraud and mismanagement within the banking and Sacco sector.
In October of last year, customers of First Community Bank were unable to withdraw their money, as the bank imposed heavy withdrawal restrictions to maintain stability in the face of panicked customers.
The panic withdrawals followed their decision to place limits on cheque clearance and withdrawals following an advisory from the banking sector regulator.
They promised their customers that they were working on ways to solve the liquidity problem, but close to three months down the line, nothing much has changed.
In fact, things only seem to be worse, as some customers now say they cannot access the capped amounts.
By January 2022, the maximum amount one could withdraw was Sh20,000 per day.
From these recent cases, it is clear that the banking sector in Kenya is currently facing a crisis of confidence as more and more customers are coming forward with complaints of fraud and mismanagement.
The regulators have failed to take action against those responsible, which is not only allowing rogue financial institutions to continue their fraudulent practices, but also encouraging them to keep defrauding innocent victims.
By staying quiet, they are complicit in the harm being inflicted on innocent depositors and savers.
The fact is, deposits and savings are no longer safe in Kenya, and the regulators must be held accountable for their inaction.
This is a call to action for all Kenyans, to demand accountability from those who are supposed to protect their financial interests, and to demand an end to the culture of fraud and deception that has taken hold in the banking sector.
This is not a problem that will simply go away, it must be fought and defeated.
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