HC Deb 16 July 1923 vol 166 cc1848-9

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will consider the advisability of offering to pay a sum approximating to the cost of taking up the Voi-Tafeta Railway to some person or corporation, if such can be found, in consideration of such person agreeing to take over and maintain the railway for a period of years?


The materials of this line have now been purchased, with the sanction of the Treasury, by the Tanganyika Government, and will be utilised for railway development elsewhere in the territory. But, in any case, it may be confidently stated that no person or corporation acquainted with the present condition and the prospects of the Voi-Tafeta line from a commercial point of view would be disposed to enter into such an agreement as is suggested. The cost of taking up and re-laying the line elsewhere is estimated at £12,000, and the annual loss on working the line for some years to come at £8,000. Very large expenditure would also be required for the necessary re-alignment and reconditioning of the present military line, which has gradients up to one in twenty-five, and is quite impossible as a permanent line.


Will the hon. Gentleman give me this information, in view of some information that was supplied to me a little time ago? Is this arrangement with the Tanganyika Government now so absolutely binding that the matter cannot be reconsidered and reopened in any way?


It would be extremely difficult now to reopen the question. The representations of the Government of Tanganyika and of the merchants interested in Tanganyika have been heard on the one side, and those of Kenya and the merchants on the other hand. My Noble Friend the Secretary of State had to choose between the two.

Lieut.-Colonel JAMES

Is it not a fact that this railway is being removed to Tanga, where the harbour is practically valueless?


I do not agree; I have been in the port of Tanga before the War in a fairly big ship. I agree that is is not as good a port as Mombasa.