The contract calls for the supply of tracks and rolling stock, provision of energy, signalling and telecommunications systems, construction of a control centre and office building, and completion of part-built workshops. Work on the nine-kilometre, 10-station line between Tafourah and Hai el-Badr is due to start in November, with completion set for the end of 2008.

The project will be financed either entirely locally or by a combination of loans from French and Spanish banks. Algiers said in the summer that it aims to finance new projects using local banks in an effort to help absorb banking liquidity of more than $14,000 million. This decision is understood to have deterred some contractors from bidding for projects, but Vinci is unfazed.

‘The decision has no impact on us,’ says a spokesperson for the company. ‘It has no effect on our pricing or on our attitude, because we know the government has the money. It is not an issue as long as oil prices remain above $25-30 a barrel, and at the moment they are more than twice this, so there is absolutely no problem.’

The estimated Eur 2.5 million ($3 million), 10-month consultancy contract on the line’s 3.5-kilometre extension between Tafourah and Oued Koriche has been awarded to a consortium of Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona, Scenair and Ensitrans, all of Spain, and Metropolitana de Lisboaof Portugal. Bids were also received from France’s Systra and a German consortium of Deutsch Consultant (DeC)and Bung.

‘The government wants to join the work on the extension with the line 1 systems work, with the aim of completing both by 2008, in time for the next elections,’ says a source close to the project. ‘To complete even line 1 by 2008 will be difficult, but I imagine that at least part of the line will be operational by then.’

The civil works package on the metro project, being undertaken by Groupement Algero Allemande du Metro d’Alger (GAAMA), a consortium of Germany’s Dywidag International and local firms Cosider and Infrafer, and is set for completion in June 2006 (MEED 4:7:03).

The award of the consultancy contract to oversee the line 1 systems work is due by the end of the year. The client is Entreprise Metro d’Algiers.