Clients will now have to travel about seven kilometres to access the banking financial services in Ishaka.
Stanbic Bank has closed its Bushenyi town-based branch, leaving residents, business people and other institutions in the area stranded.
The branch has been merged with the Ishaka branch.
According to Stanbic Bank officials, the move is intended to strengthen the systems and improve on the service delivery but other sources say the mission is to cut down operation costs of running two branches in a district.
Clients will now have to travel about seven kilometres to access the banking financial services in Ishaka where other commercial banks are also located.
The move, as expected, ignited public reaction.
“We have been partners but there must be a challenge that has forced you [Stanbic Bank] to close the service centre,” said Apollo Lee Kakonge, a civil society activist. He added that the creation of districts undermined the economy of major towns like Bushenyi.
Silver Mukwasibwe, the principal of Uganda Technical College-Bushenyi, said: “You should always allow us to tell you what is good before you reach such decisions of closing the services.”
Deo Ndiimo, the Bushenyi/Ishaka municipality town clerk, said the town is expanding but that without a financial institution, it will be a setback to progress.
He said financial institutions strengthen the urban economy in an organized manner.
These were some of the voices at a dinner at Tuzza Hotel organized by the bank to explain the merger of the two branches.
On his part, the Bishop of West Ankole Diocese, Rt. Rev Yona Katoneene, asked Stanbic to strengthen its partnership with the existing Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies (SACCOs) so that they can fill the gaps in areas where the institution has no services.
“I am worried because in terms of local economic development, you cannot move far without with the financial institutions,” he said.
Katoneene also told the bank’s clients to accept the change after revealing that al churches in the area have been banking with the closed branch.
Meanwhile, Phiona Arinaitwe, the branch manager, said the bank will install a new intelligent auto machine in Bushenyi town to enable people access some services.
“We are investing more on electronic banking,” said Ronnie Muganzi, Stanbic’s regional manager, who pointed out that people are reluctant to use electronic banking. “We are going to empower you on that [electronic banking],” he pledged.