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Egyptians check with government-run complaint offices recently set up at Cairo subway stations. Image Credit: Ramadan Al Sherbini

Cairo: Amid the usual hustle and bustle at the Sadat station, a main subway stop in central Cairo, Samir Fawzy asked a security guard about a new government service in the place. The guard pointed to a direction. Minutes later, Fawzy, an employee at a private bank, emerged with a beaming face.

“I was asking about complaint offices that the government has recently set up at the metro stations,” said the 35-year-old man.

“I wanted to present a complaint about a garbage heap near my house,” he told Gulf News.

“A nice employee at the office received my complaint along with my name, ID and phone number, and processed them into a digital system. She gave me a serial number documenting the complaint and told me to expect a call from the agency concerned with clean-up in two days. That’s great and a leap in handling people’s complaints.”

Last month, the complaint offices were launched at the main stations of the sprawling Cairo subway, which serves around 4 million people daily.

Unified network

The offices are linked to a unified electronic network that the government operates to better and efficiently address public grievances.

The network covers different ministries and public services.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country of nearly 100 million people, has long suffered from frustrating bureaucracy blamed for inefficient public services and corruption.

The complaint offices at the subway are seen as an attempt by the government of President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi to upgrade public services, dismantle the red tape and weed out graft as part of a relentless crackdown on corruption.

Well-received initiative

The latest step is proving popular with members of the public.

“Since its launch in August, the system has been attracting people who want to file complaints about different matters,” Aya Saad, a member of a team in charge of the subway service, said.

“The received complaints have covered several governmental agencies concerned with transport, education, housing, health, electricity and street clean-up,” the operator added.

Aya and her team send the complaints through a computerised system that sorts out and direct them to the agencies concerned in order to address them in a short span of time.

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Egyptians file their complaints. Image Credit: Ramadan Al Sherbini

The service is operational for 14 hours daily starting from 8 in the morning. In its first stage unveiled last month, the service is available at key stations of the three lines of the Cairo subway.

“This is a wonderful idea that saves the people’s time and secures their satisfaction,” said Hassan Abdullah, an hotel staffer, who daily uses the metro to his work.

“I learnt about this service from the metro public address system and went to the office to present a complaint about a high electricity bill I got this month.They promised me that the electricity authority will contact me for further details and act to tackle it.”

Another commuter, who gave his name as Naser Shawqi, hailed the efficiency of the complaint service and its accessibility.

“I used this service a week ago to report about theft of electricity by street vendors from lampposts near my house,” Shawqi, 54, said.

“The response was swift. Electricity police came and stopped this illegal practice,” he added.

“The metro complaint offices are a good idea. They keep data of the complainant secret and are connected with different governmental agencies, thus sparing citizens, especially the old ones, the trouble of going to these agencies. The complaint offices are also easy to reach because most people use the metro daily.”

The government has said that the subway offices are yet another step to boost links with the public.

“The aim is to further connectivity with citizens, solve their problems and encourage them to report on any violations they see,” Tareq Al Refai, the head of the government-run unified complaint network, said in media remarks.

“Our motto is: a government at hand and responsive, and a partner citizen,” the official added.