HC Deb 06 December 1950 vol 482 cc56-8W
61. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the results of the African Transport Conference recently held in Johannesburg.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The recommendations, which are numerous and detailed, are now being considered by the participating Governments, including His Majesty's Government.

The following is a summary of the more important recommendations as classified in the Final Act of the Conference: 1. Economic Development in relation to Transport. Twenty-four projects covering the development of harbours, railways, roads and inland water transport systems in the area were considered. Among the recommendations was one to the effect that the action already proposed for increasing the capacity of the Port of Beira should be completed as quickly as possible. Proposals for providing an additional outlet for the Central African territories to the East Coast, by improving rail access to Lourenço Marques, were discussed and it was recommended that judgment as to the relative merits of the various proposals should await the results of the survey which the Economic Co-operation Administration have agreed to finance. It was recommended also that the possibility of making greater use of the existing line between Mafeking and Bulawayo should be examined by the technical officers of the Rhodesian and South African railways. (In addition to its recommendations under this head the Conference noted with satisfaction that an agreement had been reached between the interested railway representatives regarding the introduction of through tariffs on the railway from Lobito Bay. The agreement remains to be approved by the Boards of the Railways concerned and their respective Governments. It would make available supplementary transport facilities between Northern Rhodesia and the seaboard). 2. Railways. Marine Ports and Inland Waterways Its was recommended that the 3 feet 6 inches gauge be accepted as the ultimate standard gauge for all important railways in Central and Southern Africa. Other technical recommendations related to the standardisation of the loading gauge, buffer designs, brake gear and other equipment in order to facilitate the movement of rolling stock throughout the area. 3. Fiscal and Rating Matters. A number of recommendations regarding through rates, discriminatory rates, facilities for the interchange of passenger and goods traffic customs regulations and visas were made. Roads. Many recommendations regarding the classification of roads, the standardisation of road signs and traffic regulations, the minimum standards of construction for interterritorial routes and the co-ordination of road research were made. Transportation. Recommendations were made concerning the basis for compiling transport statistics and on measures of co-ordination in transport services in the area. 6. Establishment of a Standing Organisation. It was unanimously recommended that collaboration between the Governments who participated in the Lisbon and Johannesburg Conference should be continued. It was also recommended that the means of achieving this should be further considered and that Governments should be invited to signify, by 28th February, 1951, whether they are prepared to agree in principle to the establishment of a standing advisory organisation for the furtherance of this aim. A draft constitution for such an organisation was prepared to help consideration of this recommendation. Subject to the agreement of Governments in principle it was recommended that a meeting to discuss and complete the draft constitution should take place in June, 1951.