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Africa

Maghreb's first metro system opens in Algeria

media A brand-new subway station in Algiers Wikimedia Commons

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika inaugurated the first underground rail system in a Maghreb country, when he cut the ribbon at a ceremony in a new metro station in Algiers on Monday.

After almost thirty years, the new system is finally up and running and from Tuesday it will be open to the Algerian public.

For 50 dinars (about 50 cents) passengers will be able to travel along an eight point five kilometre line between the Grande Poste and the Al Badr district in Kouba, in southeastern Algiers.

Some observers have criticised the price of the tickets, the equivalent of about five loaves of bread in Algeria, but Transport Minister Amar Tou insists that the cost is subsidised by the state. 

He points out that the if passengers buy a monthly travel pass, the cost of each journey is reduced to 35 dinars (about 35 cents).

The service will run from 5.00 am until 11.00 pm.

There will be ten metro stations and extensions to the line are already under construction, while at least two more lines are planned to serve the city of three million people.

The system was built by Siemens France, Vinci and CAF, who won the contract after it was put out to international tender.

Eric Cazeaux, Director of Division Rail Systems at Siemens France, hailed the success of the project and highlighted the contribution made by Algerian engineers and technicians.

The French-owned company RATP-El Djazaïr will operate the system with a staff of 400, and there will be 400 security personnel. 

It's hoped that by 2020 the metro system will cover 40 kilometres of the Algerian capital, and a new tramway system is scheduled to open in May.

Algiers has finally become the second city in Africa to have a metro system (after Cairo in Egypt) following decades of problems with the project, which was suspended due to lack of funding in the 1980s and then again in the 1990s during the period of civil war.

 

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