By Fatmata Jengbe
On Friday 28th February 2020, the Rokel Commercial Bank opened another outlet or branch in a bid to address the challenges faced by military personnel in respect of financial transactions, further bringing banking to their doorstep.
The Registrar of the AFTEC, Major S.S. Makieu, while giving a brief background to the establishment of the outlet said the dream of establishing this branch came at a time when the RSLAF leadership visualized the transformation of the then Armed Forces Education Centre to a technical college back in 2016.
He said the then Commander, Col. M.M. Hashim, was worried about how they would collect fees and other charges, and thus approached the Management of the Rokel Commercial Bank, requesting for the setting up of an outlet in the barracks.
He said the establishment of the outlet will promote cashless transactions between the college and the students, will address the issue of students boycotting classes because they want to rush to the bank to pay their fees and other chargers and reduce the transportation burden and stress on soldiers, who have always undertaken such laborious journey to and from town to access the bank.
He informed that the structure which has been transformed to a banking outlet was a dilapidated colonial building, adding that after the signing of a lease between the bank and the Ministry of Defence, the structure was handed over to them for the said edifice. He stated that the Management of RC Bank has been very much supportive to AFTEC’s development plans by providing learning materials.
The Officer in Charge of the Banking Supervision Department of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Hilton Jarrett, in his own contribution said just weeks ago, the Rokel Commercial Bank opened another outlet at Fourah Bay Collage, adding that the opening of this outlet in Wilberforce is a clear manifestation of the bank’s expansion strategy and financial inclusion drive, which supports the vision of the Bank of Sierra Leone, in terms of using financial inclusion to ensure broad based economic development. ‘We also note the efforts made in rebranding the bank as well as the introduction of new products and services,’ he stated.
He commended the Management of the bank for bringing their banking services to the doorstep of the people of Wilberforce, stressing that the opening of this outlet will therefore provide an opportunity to the community and its environs to benefit from banking services.
He emphasized that the outlet will also bring deserving relief to the hundreds of military personnel and their families who are faced with the challenges of moving to the Central Business District (CBD) to complete very simple banking transactions. He assured them that the Bank of Sierra Leone will continue to support the growth of the financial sector by introducing international best practices and providing a levelled playing field to all players, as well as ensuring that consumers are adequately educated and protected.
In his remarks, the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff for Training and Doctrine, Ministry of Defence, Brig. Gen. Michael M. Samura, said that the opening of the outlet is the primary effort to bring banking closer to its citizens. He informed the audience that Wilberforce Barracks is the largest military community in Sierra Leone and pointed out that Rokel Commercial Bank is one of the topmost banks that a greater number of their personnel are banking with and “We are particularly delighted to host this outlet, for the simple reason that it will relieve our soldiers and their families the burden of transportation costs to do their banking transactions in far distances within town,” he maintained, adding that solders will no longer take a whole day off from work with the excuse of collecting salaries from the bank.
He underscored that soldiers normally form long queues in the banks and they are also aware that some of their soldiers can be very stubborn in following simple banking etiquette, thereby causing a lot of trouble for the bank, thus setting up an outlet like this in the barracks will surely save them the embarrassments that this has been causing, adding that solders that are enrolled at the AFTEC, miss classes to do their banking transactions in town, often do not return to class, but with this outlet under their nose, such excuses will no longer be tenable.
In his statement, the Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, Dr. Dayo Gilpin, said that it is part of the efforts of the bank to ensure financial inclusion of all in society; “As a bank, we will ensure that we provide innovative products and services for our customers,’’ he said.
He apologized to all soldiers that have been standing in long queues, adding that this outlet will address those challenges. He furthered that the outlet will not only serve the soldiers, but will serve those in the Wilberforce community and its environs. He encouraged other military personnel who have not opened an account with RC Bank to make good use of this opportunity and open one, especially as banking has been brought to their doorstep.