People throng banks in Kabul, pressing to get cash

Long queues of desperate Afghans can be seen in front of various banks to withdraw limited cash as Taliban stand guard.

People throng banks in Kabul, pressing to get cash

Thousands of people thronged banks in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday to withdraw a limited amount of money as banks limited cash withdrawals to prevent a flight of capital from the country.

Long queues could be seen in front of various banks as the Taliban stand guard, some dressed in army fatigues and others in local garb, all using long-range walkie-talkies for communication.

After the Taliban captured Kabul on Aug. 15, banks were shuttered for more than a week. When the banks reopened, they limited cash withdrawals to 20,000 Afghani ($200) a day.

The bank branches were crowded because the city has only a few working ATMs.

After the fall of the Ashraf Ghani government, the local Afghani fell 15% against the US dollar, raising the prices of many products.

Economic uncertainty

Since the Taliban took control of the war-torn country, there have been rumors that money is no longer safe in banks, said Amir Hamza Bawar, general manager of the main branch of Naway Kabul Bank in Kabul.

According to him, delays in the formation of a government and uncertainties about future economic policies caused the current chaos.

The banks restarted operations only a few days ago as life drifted towards normalcy. People are in desperate need of money to run their daily businesses and purchase necessities.

People are withdrawing money rather than depositing it, which is why banks have set restrictions on cash withdrawals, according to Bawar.

He added the main branch has been dealing with roughly 3,000 customers a day, which is no easy task for the staff.

Though he did not mention the limited money supply, which is causing difficulty in getting money from banks, he expressed optimism that the banks' situation would soon return to normal.

Price hikes, capital flight

Businessman Ajmal Rahimi told Anadolu Agency that the cash withdrawal limitations were put in place to prevent capital flight from the country.

“But people in the country are also concerned about the rising prices of essentials items, and they need more money to support their families,” he added.

Hussain Ahmad, another resident of Kabul waiting outside a bank, said the limitations are giving him a lot of trouble because some of his family members are sick and he needs more money.

Emin Juyar, a student, said he has been waiting in line at various bank branches for the past two weeks. “We want to withdraw money to support ourselves. Unfortunately, several branches are closed, and those that are open are quite overcrowded,” he added.

Marwan Muhammedi, another businessman, argued that the Taliban have maintained security, and now they should concentrate on the economy.

“Kabul's residents have been facing a number of issues. We want the new government to be announced as soon as possible so that people's problems can be solved,” he said.