CONSTRUCTION of the next section of Alger metro Line 1 could start this year, following the award of an engineering contract on June 24. Entreprise du Métro d'Alger has selected a consortium of Systra and SGTE to design the 4·1 km Hamma - Hai El Badr section of the capital's first metro route over the next three years. Tenders have also been called for civil engineering work.

Systra's predecessor Sofretu was involved with a 1983 study of urban transport in Alger, which led to the decision to build the metro. The company undertook outline planning for a three-line network totalling 56 km serving 54 stations. The priority section of Line 1 between Oued Koriche and Hai el Badr was split into two for construction purposes. The eastern Stage 1 runs for 9 km from Tafourah Grande Poste to Hai El Badr, with 10 stations, plus the maintenance depot at Bachdjarah and the operations control centre. Stage 2 covers the 3·5 km westwards from Tafourah Grande Poste to Oued Koriche with six stations.

During the 1990s local contractors Geni Sider and Cosider began civil engineering work on Stage 1 between Tafourah Grande Poste and Hamma, completing 4·5 km of running tunnel. The stations at Tafourah Grande Poste, Aissat Idir, Place du 1er Mai, Khelifa Boukhalfa and Hamma are 97% complete and due to be finished this year. Funding is being sought for supply of E&M equipment through a public-private partnership. EMA hopes to award an operating concession later this year, with the first line expected to open in 2008.