A day in the life of the Maintenance Unit, the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Hiddingh and lower campuses

17 October 2011

Maintenance unit staffA Team: (From left) Casper de Wet, Anton Johnson, Ferdi Andreucci and Patrik Witbooi (front).

"What they do on a day-to-day basis?

Staffed by electrician Anton Johnson, plumber Ferdi Andreucci, and handymen Casper de Wet and Patrick Witbooi, it is fitting to conclude that the team is an anchor for the faculties they work in. Their task is simple: ensure that UCT has a supply of electricity 24 hours a day, and that everybody is working in a safe and secure environment. They are responsible for maintaining all 'plants', and conducting preventive and general maintenance functions in air-conditioning plants, electrical substations, switch rooms, boiler rooms and generators. To do that, some members have to be on standby after hours and over weekends.

What challenges do they face?

To keep all the areas going is not child's play, and it sometimes gives the staff grey hairs, as Andreucci puts it. They need to prioritise, and at times have to call in contractors. Sometimes contractors don't have all the necessary materials, and that delays the work. Working with electricity and gas can also pose a danger to team members. But professionalism and support from the university management makes the job easy and enjoyable, says Johnson.

What are the highs and the lows of the job?

Knowing that their job is a pillar of a world-class institution like UCT makes the team proud to come to work everyday, says Andreucci. This is aided by the good environment and the supportive structures they have to carry out their duties. The lows are when the odd client complains. But the team never allows that to get them down for too long.

What is the weirdest thing they have encountered on the job?

The job has its funny moments. Like the time when, try as they might, they couldn't switch on the power at a new installation. A quick investigation showed that the contractor had installed the circuit breakers on a distribution board upside down - so what everybody thought was 'on' was actually 'off'.

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