ISLAMABAD: The distance of a few yards on the other side of a boundary has made all the difference in the world for the employees of the Islamabad Model Postgraduate College (IMPC) in Sector H-8, who are facing problems for the past four weeks in accessing the branch of a bank where their college conducts all its financial transactions.
A branch of the state-owned National Bank Branch is located just inside the premises of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), a few yards from the varsity’s main gate. It also serves as the main transaction point for the IMPC, its employees and vendors.
However, following the closure of educational institutions in the federal capital and a lockdown imposed to fight against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, entry to the university premises has become difficult.
Barring the entry of employees of AIOU and bank staff, security deployed at the gate of AIOU has stopped all ‘irrelevant’ people from entering the campus.
Employees of the college say the college banks at the branch inside AIOU because it is quite close. They added that no employee of the college has been allowed inside the campus to visit the bank even for daily transactions for the past four weeks.
The worst affected, they say, are those who work on daily wages, vendors and contractors who are paid through cheques made out to this particular branch. These people do not have access to online banking facility and thus cannot complete their transactions. And since no other public treasury bank is located nearby, they have no choice but to go to this branch. Some contract staffers lack transport, and with public transport shut during the lockdown travelling to another sector is not possible for them.
"Banning the entry of the bank’s customers is illegal and unlawful,” complained Tahir Mahmood an assistant professor of the postgraduate college.
He contended that the bank does not fall under the jurisdiction of the AIOU administration.”Why are university authorities interfering in the affairs of other institutions?” he asked.
Mahmood further explained that financial matters of the college’s official accounts cannot be conducted online and that access to cash and banking services were essential to meet the day-to-day needs of the college.
IMPC Drawing and Disbursing Officer Professor Dr Fidaul Mustafa decried the interference of AIOU in the college’s banking affairs.
“The H-8 college and its staff are facing nerve-wracking problems for the past four weeks as this college maintains all of its accounts at the branch in AIOU, but its staff and employees are unable to enter the university to visit the bank, which is located just next to the university gate,” he said.
When contacted, AIOU Registrar Sohail Rana told APP that he was not aware of the issue.
He clarified that the university administration has not barred the entry of the bank’s employees. However, he added that the security staff has been directed to ensure that social distancing is observed due to the pandemic.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2020.
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