By Nader Ramadan
Power to The American University in Cairo’s Kattameya campus was lost yesterday morning when the main power line was cut by construction loaders working outside the campus, said Osama Zayed, one of university’s head engineers.
“A loader 20 km from the university cut the main power line,” Zayed said.
Close to 10:30 a.m., the lights went out around school, plunging classrooms, hallways and auditoriums around campus into darkness. Restaurants in the newly opened food court went dark, as clerks leaned on cash registers that were blank.
The power outage also came just as students were to address President David Arnold during a forum at Moataz El Alfi Hall to address their concerns about the new campus.
According to engineers, the link between the school and the main power station behind the university’s campus was cut.
“The loader hit the cable which supplies the university with electricity,” said Ahmed Said, a senior engineer at the campus power station. “This is not supposed to happen, but this is Egypt.”
When power is cut, he said, engineers follow a procedure in which they use generators to backup to the electricity lost. Engineers and technicians tried this, but the generators could not supply enough energy to power the entire campus.
Students said it was one more frustration to deal with on the new campus.
Mohammed Khairy, an undeclared freshman, was struggling to complete a last minute biology lab assignment, when the Internet went down, preventing him from further research.
“We sometimes have to finish our assignments right before classes,” said Khairy. “Sometimes, we can’t complete our assignments because the Internet is down.”
Mohammed Ramadan, another student, desperately searched for a computer with Internet access. “It’s as if we don’t have enough problems already,” he said with a concerned expression on his face.
The Egyptian government provides electricity to the campus though two main utility feeder cables, according Said, one of the senior engineers at the power station.