aof document

Documents related to fires and flooding in Kayes
(1906-1907)
in AOF Series P 196

Notes © 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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Commandants des Cercles to Gouverneur à St. Louis, telegram n° 314 (Kayes, March 1, 1889)

A fire destroyed a warehouse at Kayes containing vegetables, coffee, tea, guinée (cloth), rice, oats, arms, knives, personal effects of soldiers, and other items.


Gouverneur du Haut Sénégal-Niger to Délégué Commandant Supérieur à Kayes, telegram (April 3, 1899)

There was a fire in Kayes on the night of May 22-23, 1899.


Commandant Supérieur des Troupes Coombes to Gouverneur Haut-Sénégal-Niger,
report (Kayes, no date [July 1899])

Coombes was instructed to investigate a fire that destroyed much of Kayes on the night of May 22-23. The date of the report is illegible, but it must follow July 1, 1899 because the first paragraph mentions the governor's letter of that date

Coombes listed the European personnel of the railroad that he interviewed:


Comité Consultatif du Commerce de Kayes, Procés-Verbal de la séance du 22 Octobre 1906

The committee asks that a representative of the railroad be present when merchandise is offloaded between ships and trains in order to verify quantities and weights. They also ask for special rates for local produce that travels in the direction of Bamako. Such a rate already exists for produce shipped in the other direction.

Concerning the planned junction of the Chemin de Fer Thiès-Kayes with the Chemin de Fer Kayes-Niger, the committee asks that this junction be made at Kayes rather than at Mahina.

The committee also asks for the construction of a telegraph line to Djenné, because of its importance as a commercial center.

Finally, the committee requested that "dans les Cercles oû sont établis des comerçants, l'impôt soit strictement perçu en espèces et non en nature" (in cercles where European merchants operate, taxes must be collected in cash and not in crops).


Petition à M. le Gouverneur Merlaud-Ponty, Gouverneur du Soudan
(Bordeaux, November 1906)

This is a petition from the Bordeaux merchants seeking compensation from the government following the flood of 1906 in Kayes. It lists the names of commercial houses operating in Kayes (and presumably, victims of flooding) in 1906: Maurel & Prom, Devès Chaumont et Cie., J.S. Buhan et A. Teisseire Chavanel, La Société Commerciale du Soudan Français, Ch. Peyrissac et Cie., H. Mauer, La Compagnie Française de l'Afrique Occidentale, and two other illegible signatures.


Lt. Gouverneur du Haut Sénégal-Niger W. Ponty, "Réponse à la lettre collective des Maisons de Commerce de Bordeaux" (March 31, 1907)

This letter opens by summarizinh the letter sent by the merchants of Kayes to the govenror, Apparently, there was a flood in Kayes in 1891 that prompted the government to order the evacuation of installations along the flood plain. Since the various merchant houses had their buildings along the river, they had to move everything and suffered losses. Because of this, they have been hesitant to return to business in Kayes. They ask what sort of assurance the governor can give them that this will not be repeated.

The governor was not moved by the merchants' complaints. He replied that the last time a flood comparable to that of 1906 took place in 1890, not 1891. Moreover, there were only two or three commercial houses of secondary importance in Kayes at that time, because Médine was the seat of business. Under those circumstances, moving the town seemed like the most sensible way to avoid further flood damage.

The governor pointed out that Col. Archinard (the military governor at the time) offered free land concessions to any company that wanted to rebuild on higher ground. However, the merchants foolishly continued to locate their buildings near the market, despite the fact that they knew it could flood, and that nothing had been done to prevent new flooding.

The governor also observed that the value of those properties was artificially inflated by the demand for building space in a small area. ("commun désir des commerçants de s'établir sur le mme point") He reassured the merchants that the government will soon construct quays and flood protection devices.


Response of the Bordeaux merchants to letter of March 31, 1907 from the Gouverneur-Général de l'AOF (Bordeaux, April 16, 1907)

(p1) The Bordeaux merchants apologized for the suggestion that the government was responsible for the location of the merchant houses on the flood plain. They admitted that their own agents did this in order to avoid the additional cost of transport for goods from the river up to higher ground on the plateau about 1,000 meters away.