RBC in Sangre Grande has closed its doors after more than 30 years of providing service to people in east Trinidad.
Scores of people, including pensioners, were greeted with a chain and lock at the entrance when they arrived at the bank yesterday.
They were surprised and upset, saying they were not informed of the closure by the bank’s management. Two security officers stood at the entrance telling customers they would have to go to the Arima branch. The automated teller machine (ATM) was also closed.
Newsday was told the owner of the building had given the bank notice that he needed the other half of his building back. The other section houses Capil’s Retail Co Ltd, a family-owned furniture and electronics store. When Newsday tried to contact the owner, one employee said no one in authority was there who would be able to relay any information.
Yesterday the bank hired several maxi taxis to provide a shuttle service for customers from Sangre Grande to Arima and back. But the customers said this was a major inconvenience to them, since many come from as far as Matelot, Guayaguayare and Manzanilla. A lot were elderly people, some using walking sticks, and others helped along by relatives.
Burt Brooks, who is from Manzanilla, said he needed to change a cheque.
“I coming from far and right now I broken. I need my lil change,” he said.
Terrence Dyer, who came from Guayaguayare, stood shaking his head while eyeing the chained door.
“I studying what to do now. I come here today to see about getting a loan. I will still go Arima and hear what they will tell me,” he said.
“What the a--!” one elderly man exclaimed as he was stopped short by the chain.
He eyed the lock in dismay. “What the hell is this? They just closed down the bank without telling people? This is a real inconvenience. They have people coming from all over the place to do their banking here. This is a big town and people from other villages do business here, and they have a lot of farmers who seek their financing here. That is why this country running the way it running right now,” said the man, who declined to give his name.
He added that he was tempted to close his RBC account and do business with another bank.
One of the security officers said advertisements had been placed in both the print and electronic media, but several customers dismissed this explanation, saying not everyone accessed the media or read ads.
At the bank’s Arima branch, the tellers’ lines were long, but the ATMs were no busier than usual. A number of people were leaving and entering the rented maxi taxis.
Basdaye Ramsaran, from North Eastern Settlement, said she had to make the trip.
“My husband passed away a little while ago and I am a getting a little public assistance to help me out,” she explained.