Algiers has delayed the opening of the first line of its metro project until next year.

Jerome Penot, a spokesman at Germany’s Siemens Transportation Systems, which leads the consortium building the metro, says it has completed most of the work for the first line, including tunnels and stations, but it will not open this month as planned.

Penot says the delay in the opening of the 9 kilometre-long track linking Grande Poste to Hai el-Badr along the Bay of Algiers is a “political decision” made by Entreprise du Metro d’Alger, the state-owned developer of the scheme.

In May 2009, Entreprise invited bids for the $1bn second phase of the project to extend Line 1 and build all of Line 2.

Algiers divided the work into four packages. These will extend the metro from El-Harrach station to Bab Ezzouar, from Place des Martyrs to Bab el-Oued, from Bab el-Oued to Chevalley, and from Ain Naadja to Les Fusilles.

Siemens is putting the computer and signalling systems in place, Spain’s TAF is building the rolling stock and France’s Vinci Grands Projets is responsible for the civil works. Testing of the system began in March.

A group led by Brazilian construction group Andrade Gutierrez won a E200m ($276m) contract in March to build a 2km extension of the metro from Grande Poste to the Casbah.

Although it is a short line, sources say it is difficult because the tunnel passes through rock.