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Avant-Projet de Transbordeur Entre Bamako et Koulouba: Considerations Générales, Voies et Moynes Financiers, Forme de la Passation du Marché, n°549 (July 8, 1918)

in AOF Series O 237
Notes © 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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(p1) Considerations Générales: Koulouba is about 130 meters above the Niger River. It has a population of about 50 fonctionnaires (government employees). All of its supplies come from Bamako.

Supplies are delivered by a "parc important de boys" (large number of African messengers). There are also African employees at Koulouba who work as scribes in offices, or laborers on construction sites. Most live in Bamako, come to work in the morning and leave in the evening. Many return to Bamako during the day in the course of their work and also for lunch. Those who must stay at Koulouba during lunch have their wives bring food up to them.

(p2) All of the Africans take the mule track to Koulouba, which is about two kilometers long and includes a 1,300-meter section with a 10% slope. This takes a half hour each way. A few use horses which makes the steep section a lot easier.

The author attempted to estimate the number of trips between the two towns each days (voyages simples, montée ou descente):

Category Average number of trips per day
in either direction
Boys 250
Plantons (orderlies) 70
Scribes 40
African women 70
Laborers 300-400

Europeans make relatively few trips, and when they do, they use horses or automobiles. There is a four kilometer route from Bamako to Koulouba that requires 45 minutes to go up and 30 minutes to come down. Because of the time involved, very few Europeans make the trip during the course of the day. Those who do usually do so to visit government offices. In the evenings, there is almost no traffic between the two towns.

(p3) Overall, they recorded 50 trips by a total of 150 Europeans. Some of these were not from Bamako, but were instead people resident in the Niger bend region who were stopping in at headquarters while en route back to their posts.

There are twelve "voitures ou breaks" (cars or station wagons) at Koulouba for the use of government personnel. There are another twenty in Bamako that belong to the Service Locaux and various commercial houses.

When estimating the potential for a transport connection between the two towns to generate revenue, the authors write that one should not expect African workers to use it because "en moyenne touchent des salaires assez bas" (their salaries are too low on average). In addition, once construction is finished, they will not need to go to Koulouba any more.

After construction is finished, there will be a need for about 450 trips per day. The author estimates that one third of those will take place by tramway, but gives no clue as to why he selects this proportion. The author adds about 50 trips by Europeans to this, and guesses the maximum will be at most twice this total (450 + 50), or about 1000 trips per day.

The author proposes the following rates for Africans: 0.10 francs to descend to Bamako and 0.15 francs to go upwards to Koulouba. Europeans should pay 0.15 francs and 0.25 francs respectively.

This adds up to an annual revenue of 15,000 francs.