Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/598

This page needs to be proofread.

INLAND NAVIGATION [ameriga Panama Railroad shares. These are to revert to the company had caused grave doubts, and to this end caused liquidator, but the company has the privilege of purchasing an inquiry to be held by a commission of French and foreign engineers, having at their head M. Guillemain, them for 20,000,000 francs in cash and half the net the Director of the National School of Fonts et Chaussees. annual profits of the road. The Panama Railroad retains This commission reported on 9th May 1890 that a canal its separate organization as an American corporation. Its with locks, for which they submitted a plan, could be relations to the Colombian Government have remained built in eight years at a cost of 580,000,000 francs for the unchanged throughout the vicissitudes of the canal works, which sum should be increased to 900,000,000 company, its present principal stockholder. The securityfrancs to include administration and financing. _ They holders of the old canal company thus have a contingent reported that the plant in hand was in good condition and interest in the new company. They have no direct voice would probably suffice for finishing the canal, and they in its management, but to protect their interests the estimated the value of the work done and of the plant in liquidator has the right to appoint an Auditing Commission of three persons to inspect the works and accounts, hand at 450,000,000 francs. The time within which the canal was to be completed the expense to be borne by the company. The old securityunder the Wyse Concession having nearly expired, the holders have the preference in subscriptions for one-half liquidator sought and obtained from the Colombian the present stock of the company and for the whole of all Government an extension of ten years. The law which future issues. Immediately after its organization in 1894 the new granted this extension is dated 26th December 1890, and it provided that a new company should be formed and company took possession of the property (except the work upon the canal resumed on or before 28th February Panama Railroad shares, which are held in trust for its 1893. This condition not having been fulfilled, a second benefit), and proceeded to make a new study of the entire extension was sought and obtained 4th April 1893; it subject of the canal in its engineering and commercial provided that the term of ten years granted by the aspects. It resumed the work of excavation, with a extension of 1890 should begin to run not later than moderate number of men sufficient to comply with the 31st October 1894. By an agreement dated 26th April terms of the concession, in a part of the line the 1900, the time was still further extended to 31st October Emperador and Culebra cuts—where such excavation must 1910. For each of these extensions the Colombian contribute to the enterprise if completed under any plan. Government exacted heavy subsidies. After many By the middle of 1895 about 2000 men had been difficulties and delays the liquidator finally secured the collected, and since that time the work has progressed organization of a new company on the 20th October continuously, the number of workmen varying between 1894. The old company and the liquidator had raised, by 1900 and 3600. The amount of material excavated to the sale of stock and bonds, the sum of 1,271,682,637 the end of 1899 was about five million cubic yards. The francs The securities issued to raise this money had a amount expended to 30th June 1899 was about 35,000,000' par value of 2,245,151,200 francs, and they are held by francs, besides about 6,500,000 francs advanced to the about 200,000 persons. In all about 72,000,000 cubic Panama Railroad Company for building a pier at La Boca. The charter provided for the appointment by the yards had been excavated, and an enormous quantityanc of machinery and other plant had been . purchased i company and the liquidator of a special engineering transported to the isthmus at an estimated cost of commission of five members, to report upon the woxk 150 000,000 francs. Nearly all of the stock of the done and the conclusions to be drawn therefrom, this Panama Railroad—68,534 of the 70,000 shares existing— report to be rendered when the amounts expended by the new company should have reached about one-half its also had been purchased, at a cost of 93,268,186 francs. The new company has been regularly organized under capital. The report was to be made public, and a special French law, and has been recognized by the Colombian meeting of the stockholders was then to be held to Government. It is technically a private cor- determine whether or not the canal should be completed, Second poration, but the great number of persons in- and to provide ways and means. The time for this report Paimnm terested in tjie securities of the old company, and and special meeting arrived in 1898. In the meanwhile Company. ^ speciai legislation of the French Chambers, the company had called to its aid a Technical Committee give it a semi-national character. By the. law of 8th composed of fourteen engineers, European and American, June 1888, all machinery and tools used in the work some of them among the most eminent in their profession. must be of French manufacture, and raw material must be After a study of all the data available, and of such additional surveys and examinations as it considered of French origin. Its capital stock consists of 650,000 should be made, this committee rendered an elaborate shares of 100 francs each, of which 50,000 shares belong report dated 16th November 1898. This report was to Colombia. It succeeded to all the rights of the old referred to the above-mentioned statutory commission company in the concessions, works, lands, buildings, plant, maps, drawings, &c., and shares of the Panama Railroad of five, who reported in 1899 that the canal could be upon the following conditions, viz.It undertook to finish built according to that project within the limits of time the canal if, after further careful study, that were found and money estimated. The special meeting of stockexpedient; after completion the revenues were to be holders was called immediately after the regular annual applied, first to the payment of all subsidies due to the meeting of 30th December 1899. It is understood that Colombian Government, all expenses of operation and the liquidator (who holds about one-fourth the stock) maintenance, all interest and sinking fund on loans, and all refused to take part in it, and that no conclusions were reached as to the expediency of completing the canal or as sums required by law for a reserve fund, then five per providing ways and means. The engineering questions cent on the capital stock was to be set aside for the to payment of dividends, and to provide a sinking fund for had been solved to the satisfaction of the company, but redeeming the stock, all of which must be redeemed within the financial questions had been made extremely difficult, not insoluble, by the appearance of the United btates ninty-nine years; and the balance remaining, if any, was if Government in the field as a probable builder ot an to be divided into two parts, one of forty per cent, to go isthmian canal. The company continued to conduct its to the stockholders, and the remaining sixty per cent, to operations in a provisional way, without appealing o ie the liquidator. For the contingency that the canal should public for capital. not be completed, special conditions were made as to the 548