By Bassem El Sanadi
Now that they are not around, everyone wonders where all those janitors and office boys in blue shirts who kept The American University in Cairo clean and efficient have disappeared to.
On the old campus, in every building, there were two or three janitorial men in blue shirts known to the faculty and staff. Their jobs were to keep the place clean and help faculty members with their files and offices.
On the new campus, their absence is deeply felt as AUC staff run around carrying files, looking for blank papers for their printers, and a number of staff and students complain about unclean buildings.
The university signed a contract with Mohandeseen-based facilities management firm, Compass Egypt, which provides the university with janitors and manages them. But faculty still question the number of custodial staff that were recruited.
“I have seen a few janitors but they are all new and not always around, if I want to send something to the registrar or any other building I have to go myself or use e-mail which really slows down the process,” said Nesrine Azmy, a mass communication department secretary.
Nahed Ali El Faransawy, senior HR specialist in the Human Resources office, said the workload and conditions of workers differ from one department to another.
Faculty members also complain that in the old campus, the janitors were familiar to them, and they would send them on errands to get anything, from lunch to medicine.
“Here it is not possible, since janitors are not familiar with everything and their job is mainly cleaning,” said Azmy.
Janitors on the new campus said they do not have one-on-one relationships with the faculty and staff and they focus only on keeping the university clean.
“I arrive at the campus by 7 a.m., clean, put chairs and desks in order and make sure everything is in place before I head off to my house,” said Kareem, a library janitor.
According to the janitors, the workload is divided equally and there are two or three janitors on every floor in the library.
Mahmoud Awho, a janitor who works in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences building, said for every building there is a manager, a team leader and six janitors on every floor.
“The managers go around checking on the janitors every now and then,” Awho said, while tearing packages and stuffing them in rubbish bags.