Many Troubles For PoS Operators - NEW TELEGRAPH
Last week, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) rolled out a new policy to guide operations of Point of Sale (PoS) agents in Abuja, a development that triggered complaints. CALEB ONWE reports
T his period is definitely not the best of times for Point of Sale ( POS) agents in the Federal Capital Territory. Just when they are trying to grapple with the new regulations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with regards to cash withdrawal limits, the FCTA has rolled out a new operational guideline that restricts them to certain areas of the city. Certainly they now have more troubles knocking at their doors.
Restrictions on PoS agents
Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council ( AMMC) Umar Shuaibu said that the new move became necessary to address insecurity associated with the activities of the POS operators. Shuaibu noted that while the administration was not against POS business in Abuja, the indiscriminate erection of POS kiosks was becoming a nuisance an violates environmental rules. Senior Special Assistant to the FCT Minister on Monitoring,Inspection and Enforcement, Ikharo Attah explained that the FCTA was particularly disturbed by those who unlawfully cite their POS outlets in areas that jeopardise security. Attah noted that while his team will not touch operators who limit their activities to commercial places, those who constitute a nuisance and a security threat will be removed. According to him, FCT Minister was not opposed to POS business but kicks against indiscriminate operations that adversely affects the security of residents. He further stated that there were complaints by residents that strange people were indiscriminately operating POS kiosks within some restricted areas such as on the streets and around the gates to some estates. “We support POS business, but frown at those operations that threaten security of our people ”
Inside Abuja gathered that last week, about 47 POS agents were arrested for hanging around on the streets and other unapproved places within the city. Senior Special Assistant to FCT Minister on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement, Ikharo Attah who addressed the violators at the premises of Abuja Environmental Protection Board ( AEPB) Area 3, said the Minister has no plan to stop POS business, but concerned about security issues surrounding it. Attah stated that the arrested violators may face a Mobile Court as they have violated some environmental laws, for operating their businesses in unapproved places. He explained that POS business was not illegal, but operating outside commercial zones and indiscriminately on the streets was an offence. According to him, reports on the arrested violators would go to the Minister, to determine the next line of action. Assistant Director, Enforcement at AEPB, Kaka Bello noted that environmental laws forbid business activities at residential areas and on the streets. Bello noted that AEPB Enforcement team was prepared to give effect to the restrictions on the POS operations. He further explained that those who operate at commercial places will have no issue with the team, but violators of the restrictions would be made to face the wrath of the law.
Growth of PoS
Inside Abuja’s findings showed that POS business became prominent in the country, due to the CBN’s policy on financial inclusion. The promoters of the business have argued that POS was necessary for financial inclusion, as it will enhance access to financial services even in remote places. Some stakeholders have expressed worries about the multiple challenges facing the POS operators. Recent reports from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System ( NIBSS) showed that despite the challenges that POS faced over the years, it had made appreciable prog-ress. The report disclosed that as at September 2022, POS transactions terminals have hit N735.6 billion.
Apart from lamentations that the new CBN’s cash withdrawal limits will hinder their daily transactions and profitability, the POS operators are undoubtedly troubled by the new policy on location of their businesses. Solomon Wari, a civil servant who owns a POS centre in the front of his residence in Wuse 6, was one of the agents caught up in the new restrictions. He was arrested for operating on the street and outside a commercial zone. The middle aged man who said he was doing the business to augment his poor salary, noted that the POS environment was becoming too harsh.
He has even vowed to quit the business after been released by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board ( AEPB). According to him, the CBN regulations will make the business less attractive, coupled with the harassment from FCTA law enforcement team. Another POS agent, Mary Ene who was also arrested for operating on the street, could not hold back her tears while she was narrating why she had to stay on the roadside. She stated that the so called commercial places, were already saturated with operators and getting for a space in such places would be very difficult. Ene who pleaded for forgiveness for operating on the streets, noted that quitting the business was no longer an option, but mandatory, to avoid unnecessary troubles.