aof document

Documents concerning the
Chemin de Fer Ségou-Bani (1911-1920s)
in AOF Series O 238

Notes © 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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A. Dabrigeon & Co. of London to Gouverneur-Général Ponty à Dakar,
letter (Orléans, December 18, 1911)

The firm of A. Dabrigeon & Company requested permission to build a narrow gauage railroad from Tamani to Tiendo. The company is based in London, but has offices in Tours and Orléans, according to the letterhead.

They must have received permission in January because by February 21, 1912, the firm announced in another letter to Ponty that they had purchased two small speedboats for transporting material on the Niger River. The form also mentioned their intent to grow castor beans to produce oil for automotive purposes.


Arrêté autorisant MM. Carrie et Dabrigeon à utiliser la route de Tamani à Tiendo pour y établir une voie ferrée type Decauville - Rapport de Conseil d'Administration
(February 17, 1912)

(p1) The firm received an authorization valid for ten years. The government had the right to revoke it at any time. The company was only authorized to transport merchandise of the company (not to provide general freight service for other firms).


Lt. Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger to Gouverneur-Géneral de l'AOF,
letter (Bamako, June 28, 1919)

This is the first of many letters concerning the construction of a railroad from Kayes to Nioro. It was never built.


Société d'étude des voies économiques de l'Afrique Occidentale Française
(no date [after 1923])

This is a report on the economic potential of the region and its relationship to railroad construction and use. In effect, it is a promotional document for the company that built the narrow gauge railroad across the divide betweeen the Niger and Bani Rivers from Ségou to Tamani.

(p4) "Si l'on considère le vaste projet de travaux publics conçu en Afrique Occidentale Française--travaux qui sont devenus aujourd'hui nècessaires pour assurer le développement normal et régulier de notre grande colonie africaine--on s'aperçoit que l'effort principal porte sur les voies ferrées" (If one considers the vast public works project constructed in French West Africa--work which was necessayr for the normal and regular development of our great African colony--one pereceives that the main effort was provided by the railroads.)

"C'est, en effet, à nos Chemins de Fer que nous devons cet essor admirable de l'Afrique Occidentale Française" (In effect, we owe the admirable economic boom in French West Africa to our railroads.)

(p5) Human porters could not provide transport for economic development. Porters could only carry small loads, this type of transport was too expensive, and it required scarce human labor.

In 1902, the Chemin de Fer de l'AOF had 700 kilometers of rails. By the time of this report, there were 2,250 kilometers.

(p6) The region between the Niger and Bani Rivers is the richest in all of French Soudan.

(p9) On April 12, 1912, the Gouverneur Général de l'AOF issued the following order: "Il y a obligation strict pour les noirs à cultiver le coton, et le soin d'assurer l'application de cette mesure revient aux commandants de cercles" (Africans are obliged to grow cotton and commandats des cercles are responsible for seeing that they obey.)

(p11) This report describes the advantages of constructing a rail line from Tamamni to the Bani River.

The trip by animal or human porter from Sikasso to Bamako (365 kilometers) takes 18-20 days for animals and 13 for humans.

(p12) Porters charge 8 francs for a 30-kilogram load, which is equivalent to 264 francs per ton.

(p13) The railroad from Ségou to Tamani was 90 kilometers in length. It operated with two locomotives of 6 tons, 50 flat-bed cars, 25 tank cars and 5 boxcars.

(p14) Construction of the Chemin de Fer Ségou-Bani required importation of 2,700 tons of material. This material will be shipped from Europe via Dakar and Kayes by ship, and via the Chemin de Fer Kayes-Niger to Koulikoro. From Koulikoro to Tamani, it continued by boat. This is the breakdown on transport costs:

Item Cost Cost per unit
Transport from Europe to Kayes 192,500 10 francs per ton
Transport from Kayes to Kouli 113,805 42.15 francs per ton
Transport from Kouli to Tamani 27,500 70 francs per ton
Offloading at Kayes and Koulikoro 27,500 -
Import 50 additional tons 6,015 120.30 francs per ton
Total 905,820 francs

(p16) This is the list of employees: 2 European mechanics were paid 6,000 francs while each of 5 African mechanics got 1,200 francs. Each of 5 locomotive drivers got 720 francs per year. Twenty laborers received 270 francs.

(p17) The terminus of the Chemin de Fer Kayes-Niger at Koulikoro is located four kilometers from the African village.

(p18) This report also includes a map of the Cercle of Ségou showing the names of cantons and the route of the railroad.