Shocked and dismissed are how Family Island administrators are describing the move by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to pull out of their districts during the first quarter of 2018.
The announcement, made Tuesday night via a press release by RBC’s Managing Director, Nathanial Beneby, indicated that RBC branch locations in Central Andros and Grays, Long Island will close in March and April respectively. Its Robinson Road and JFK branches will also be closed in New Providence.
Long Island Administrator Cleola Pinder told Eyewitness News that while they expected a decrease of the bank’s services on the island they were caught off guard by the announcement of an absolute pull out.
“When the managing director visited Long Island a few months ago, he indicated that they will be streamlining their services he did not say that they will be closing so its really surprising that they decided to close the banks because I don’t know what the residents of Long Island are going to do.”
Pinder added that the sudden move leaves Long Islanders with little options. “I mean it is already difficult because Scotiabank is only operating two days a week and they really don’t accept cash and it’s going to be difficult for the elderly and the working class so I’m surprised by all of this.”
Meanwhile Administrator of the Central Andros district, Glen Lightbourne, said the decision to shut down the bank is a major blow to that small community where the elderly are the majority. He voiced his concern over vital government operations.
“They [government] do all of the accounts payable through RBC, he said. “I would imagine it will impact my administrative duties because we won’t have a bank in the district. The nearest one would be more than 40 miles away.
“It will require persons to open accounts in the next closet bank, which is in Nicholls Town and that is not practical for us. Our roads are not really connected as yet and a taxi is $110 dollars to the next bank .”
Aside from the additional expense Lightbourne said residents in the community are simply not financially, or in most cases, physically able so. He recommends that the government moves quickly as it did when RBC pulled out of Bimini, and replace those banking services with the Bank of The Bahamas.
“It’s getting harder and harder for us on these islands,” Lightbourne said. “I don’t know how they expect us to make it but I guess they have to look at their bottom line and we have to suffer for it.”