Interview: Boudjema Talai
What are the main objectives of the Ministry of Transport for the next five years?
BOUDJEMA TALAI: Restructuring and reorganisation are listed as key priorities, and in the short term the goal is rapid and coherent transport development. The state shareholding management companies will shift to a more modern mode of operational management with the aim of creating growth, revenue and employment.
The commercial sector will be reorganised into groups according to purpose. The government’s fiveyear plan will focus on increasing our capabilities in all main modes of transport: the air fleet, the maritime fleet, urban rail transport, and suburban and urban road transport are all under review. We are also improving intermodal transport connections. Port facilities will be developed in a manner that takes into account the objectives for 2050, and there are plans under way to develop new port infrastructure.
Acquisitions in the air and maritime transport segments are taking place as planned. There is also an expansion of the railway network under way, which has a more direct economic impact, and we are working to ensure a timely delivery. Funding has already been mobilised here. We are open to various funding mechanisms such as bank credit or public-private partnerships; both models are possible, and we will integrate them according to need and demand. We have put some projects on hold that have not yet been started in order to clearly assess the needs and development of our cities. Economically viable projects will be maintained and financed by the market.
What strategies will you implement in order to relieve congestion in urban areas?
TALAI: In recent years, state support for youth employment has favoured the proliferation of urban transport, which has created significant congestion in our cities. Through commissioning public transport lines, such as trams and metros in the big cities, and the reorganisation of transit lines, we expect to relieve congestion in urban areas. In conjunction with the development of these forms of transport, parking lots will be built on the outskirts of cities so that people who commute can park their cars and get to the city centre quickly. These car parks will be connected to modern means of transport like the tram and metro. The elevated metro, which is considered to be an economically viable means of transport, is still at the feasibility study stage. When constructed, it will connect Hai El Badr to Chevalley.
In cities where there are different existing transport systems, for example in Algiers, Oran, Constantine and several other places, interconnectivity clearly plays a role in creating efficiency. The development of intermodal transport is valuable at all levels and includes improvements in the pricing structure for users. We will also need to create a suitably priced single ticket that can be used across several means of transport, for example on the bus, tram and metro.
In terms of air transport, how can the competitiveness of local airlines be increased?
TALAI: Reorganising Air Algeria and implementing its development plan will certainly make the company more competitive. The objective here is to have a fleet with an average age of six years and to increase the size of Algeria’s fleet. There are a total of 44 aircraft in 2015, and in 2016 that number will increase to 59. After 2016 a second development plan is expected. The ultimate goal is to reach a fleet of 100 aircraft.
In the future, we will spin off activities such as catering and ground services. This will allow the company to focus on its core purpose. Finally, we will launch a major recruitment and training drive. Once these objectives have been achieved, we will consider the open skies agreement more seriously. We are also looking to strengthen our market share and will continue developing the second air carrier, Tassili Airlines.
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