HC Deb 20 May 1949 vol 465 c43W
7. Squadron-Leader Kinghorn

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what measures are being considered for making use of alternative ports to relieve pressure on the port of Beira.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

The problems arising from the pressure on the port of Beira are the subject of constant consultation between the Portuguese Government, the Government of Southern Rhodesia, and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom on behalf of the Colonial Governments concerned, and measures for relieving this pressure are at present being actively considered by the three Governments. Of the alternative routes available at present, greater use is being made of those through ports in the Union of South Africa by the railway through the Bechuanaland Protectorate; through Lobito Bay by the Benguela Railway to Northern Rhodesia; and through Lourenco Marques by rail to the Southern Rhodesian border at Beitbridge, from which point goods are carried by motor transport to the nearest railhead in Southern Rhodesia. This last route is, however, too expensive for any but the most urgent traffic.

Recently His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have accepted an invitation from the Portuguese Government to send a delegation to a Central African Transport Conference to be held in Lisbon at the end of this month. It is understood that similar invitations have also been accepted by the French, Belgian and Union of South Africa Governments. The main object of this Conference is to facilitate an exchange of views on transport problems in Africa south of the Sahara. It is also proposed at this Conference to draw up an agenda for a subsequent and more detailed African Conference to co-ordinate communication development in that area.