After decades of delays, Algiers’ residents must be hoping that their new metro is more reliable than the timetable for its completion. The project has been delayed and derailed by a series of problems, not least the 10-year civil war and the country’s stulti-fying bureaucracy.

The first line of the Algerian capital’s underground rail network was expected to open in October. But according to the lead contractor on the project, the first train is not expected to open its doors to the paying public until next year – 28 years after plans for the metro were first mooted.

The false starts and delays have been frustrating for local residents, but given Algeria’s troubled history, they are hardly surprising.

More than 150,000 people were killed in the war and Algeria’s civil institutions and infrastructure – its health, education and transport systems – fell into decline.

Algeria’s Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has announced government plans to spend $150bn on infrastructure projects between 2009 and 2013. Such long-term investment is essential if Algeria – a big supplier of oil and gas – is to fulfil its economic potential.

Many are sceptical about the government’s ability to achieve its goals, and much more needs to be done to open up the Algerian economy – a key step to attract foreign investors. But when the Algiers metro finally opens, it will be a significant step forward for the country.