Major projects to revamp Algiers under way
By Hayam El Hadi for Magharebia in Algiers – 26/07/12
Algiers is being given a new look. By 2029, the capital will become the "Pearl of the Mediterranean", according to the governor of Algiers, who is promising a city that is more open to the sea.
Two weeks ago, residents of Algiers got to see stunning models of the future, with redevelopment transforming currently derelict areas. Residents of the city saw miniature versions of the swimming pools, playgrounds, stadiums, biking paths, rest areas and restaurants that will replace the current desolate landscape by 2015.
The acres of land flanking the Route Moutonnière and Oued El Harrach will be the first areas targeted by the huge restoration project. The project has an initial budget of 202 billion dinars (2 billion euros), according to APS.
Mohamed El Kebir Addou, the governor of Algiers, said at the project kick-off July 14th that the initiative was "part of the plan to develop the Bay of Algiers" and is the first-ever attempt to implement "a very long-term vision aiming at restructuring the city of Algiers in a progressive but sustainable way".
The first priority will be to decontaminate the Oued El Harrach. The scale of the project is ambitious as it will turn the river, sadly notorious for its nauseating smells, into the new centre of attraction of the Bay of Algiers, around which other projects will be implemented.
Some residents of Algiers are in awe, while others are sceptical. Mohamed Mebtouche, who is 40 and lives in the working-class district of El Harrach, told Magharebia of his astonishment upon hearing of the project that will be implemented in his neighbourhood.
"Turn Oued El Harrach into a leisure area? I'm amazed at the choice of location. It's such a working-class part of town with a reputation for not being very welcoming, but I have faith in the people who live there, they'll adapt," he said.
"It will be so wonderful to see this oued transformed into lakes where we'll be able to go fishing and gardens where our children will be able to run around. I hope that God will let me live until 2015 so that I can see the project become a reality," Mebtouche added.
Manel Meddahi, a 24-year-old student, expressed scepticism about the project. "So they want to transform the Oued El Harrach, which has made our lives a misery for years with its smells and mosquitoes, into a holiday resort? I don't believe it. I can't imagine this area, which is so ugly today, being full of trees with swimming pools and playgrounds. I've seen the models, it looks so pretty but I'll believe it when I see it."
The governor of Algiers is adamant that the project will be completed, however. It will involve several stages. The first stage (2009-2014) will focus on reclaiming the capital's seafront and revamping historic centre of Algiers such as the Kasbah, restoring the ecological balance, the reorganisation of certain districts surrounding large public amenities and the installation of modern street lighting.
During the second stage (2015-2019), a new deep-water port will be built, the Bay of Algiers will continue to be developed and tracts of industrially-owned land will be reclaimed. During the third stage (2020-2024), the efforts to develop the Bay of Algiers will continue.
The goal of the final stage (2025-2029) will be to transform Algiers into a "world city" that is open to the sea and the rest of the world.
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