anm document

Various documents related to roads in French Soudan (1937)
in ANM 1 K 2175 fonds nouveaux, tome I

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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NOTE: This file was originally dated 1947, but all of the materials were from 1937. After consultation, the staff (Sanogo and Ongočba) changed it to 1937 in the Répetoire and on the document itself.


Gouverneur Général de l'AOF to Lt. Gouverneurs des Colonies (sauf Sénégal)
n°245/TP (Dakar, April 14, 1937)

In response to a proposal to raise revenue for road-building by levying tolls on bridges, roads and parking lots, the Governor General warned that without strict enforcement, such measures will penalize those who respect French law.

Signed by Geismar, pour Gouverneur Général de l'AOF en tourné, le Secretaire Général du Gouvernement Général


Chef du Bureau des Affaires Économiques Koenig,
"Note au sujet du classement des routes par ordre d'importance économique" (Koulouba, May 3, 1937)

This described the 3-tier system of road classification in effect in French Soudan. This included "routes intercoloniales, routes d'intérêt général et routes d'intérêt local." This note argues that routes should be classified by their economic importance. It divides all of the major roads in Soudan into primary and secondary groups.

All of the roads out of Bamako, all roads from Kayes perpendicular to the railroad, all roads from Mopti north and east, plus the roads from San-Jenné, Bafoulabé- Satadougou, and Fana-Diolia were of primary importance. Secondary roads were those in the far north and far south, parallel to the railroad, or cross connectors between primary routes. In effect, the primary routes were those that extended the rail-river axis.


Chef de Service p.i. des Travaux Publics, "Réseau Routier. État au 31 Decembre 1936.
Colonie du Soudan Français
" (Bamako, June 24, 1937)

This table summarizes the list of all the roads in French Soudan:

Class of road Improved (empièrrée) kilometers Unimproved kilometers
Inter-colonial roads 1,286 2,980
Intra-colonial roads 326 6,115
Local roads 231 11,567
Trans-Saharan routes n/a 1,712
Total 1,843 12,374

The total length of all roads in French Soudan was 14,217 kilometers. The longest improved roads were 505 of 951 kilometer between Kayes-Bamako-Ségou-San-Ouahigouya; 201 of 213 kilometer between Bamako-Bougouni-Sikasso-Bobo; 187 of 420 kilometer between Mopti and Gao; and 175 kilometer between Mopti and Korientze.


Chef de Service p.i. des Travaux Publics, "Fiche de Renseignement conçernant vehicles automobiles
en service au 31 Decembre 1936"
(Bamako, June 24, 1937)

Type of vehicle Local government
service
Other government
service
Private Total
Tourist automobiles 52 48 567 667
Buses 9 1 2 12
Trucks and light trucks 116 70 799 985
Motorcycles 9 8 172 189
Ambulances 2 3 n/a 5
Trash 16 n/a n/a 16
Sprinklers 2 1 n/a 3
Total 206 131 1540 1877


Président de la Chambre de Commerce de Kayes to Lt. Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
n°238 L/JV (Kayes, June 26, 1937)

The President of the Chamber of Commerce of Kayes offered recomendations for road work. Their first concern was the Kayes- Nioro road. In addition to improving the road, they also suggested that the government clear a 50-meter wide swath adjacent to the road for use by caravans.

They also requested improvements to the road between Bafoulabé and Satadougou, from Kayes to Kédougou along the Paparah River, and Kidira-Kita, using the old railroad right- of-way and bridges were possible. They claimed that the existing road network was built before the automobile reached the Soudan, and therefore was unable to be used efficiently by automobiles.


Inspection Général des Travaux Publics De Coppet to Lt. Gouverneurs des Colonies en Groupe, n°352/TP "Au sujet de programme routier 1938" (Dakar, July 7, 1937)

(p1) The plan calls for the use of mechanized equipment for road building, bridge building and road maintainance, in order to reduce the use of forced labor. The plan also called for the construction of permanent bridges (ouvrages d'art) instead of temporary structures that would be washed out in the hivernage.

(p2) To carry out the plan, they needed to buy a "rouleau compressor, tonnes de arrosages" (compressor and tanks for sprinkling water on dirt roads to reduce dust) for maintaining pistes (unimproved dirt roads).

(p3) The main goal of the plan was to build roads that fed into the rail-river system.


Gouverneur du Soudan Français F. Rougier, "Arrète n° 2664 déterminant le classement des routes de réseau routier de la Colonie du Soudan Français, au point de vue de limitation de la circulation" (Koulouba, November 10, 1937)

The only first class road in the Soudan (capable of carrying vehicles up to 15-tons) was that from Bamako to Koulouba. There were second class roads capable of carrying 9-ton vehicles from Bamako to Kokolani, Bamako to Bandiagara via Ségou, Ségou to Markala, Mopti to Kona, San to Dedougou, Ouaahigouya to Dedougou and from Gao to Kidal. Third class roads were rated for vehicles up to 5 tons and fourth class roads were rated for vehicles up to 3 tons.


Inspection Général des Travaux Publics to Gouverneur Général de l'AOF,
n°1255/TP (Dakar, April 13, 1938)

The decree of June 21, 1937 was revised as follows: 2nd class roads were rated for vehicles up to 9.5 tons (from 9) and 3rd class roads were rated for vehicles up to 6 tons (from 5).