Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
234
[Communications
Cape Colony

figure until the development of the Witwatersrand gold mines. The consequent great increase in the carrying trade with the Transvaal led to some neglect of the internal resources of the colony. Trade depression following the war of 1899–1902 turned attention to these resources, with satisfactory results. The value of imports for local consumption in 1906 was £12,847,188, the value of exports, the produce of the colony being £15,302,854. A “trade balance-sheet” for 1906 drawn up for the Cape Town chamber of commerce by its president showed, however, a debtor account of £18,751,000 compared with a credit account of £17,931,000, figures representing with fair accuracy the then economic condition of the country.

Cape Colony is a member of the South African Customs Union. The tariff, revised in 1906, is protective with a general ad valorem rate of 15% on goods not specifically enumerated. On machinery generally there is a 3% ad valorem duty. Books, engravings, paintings, sculptures, &c., are on the free list. There is a rebate of 3% on most goods from the United Kingdom, machinery from Great Britain thus entering free.

Communications.—There is regular communication between Europe and the colony by several lines of steamships. The British mails are carried under contract with the colonial government by packets of the Union-Castle Steamship Co., which leave Southampton every Saturday and Cape Town every Wednesday. The distance varies from 5866 m. to 6146 m., according to the route followed, and the mail boats cover the distance in seventeen days. From Cape Town mail steamers sail once a week, or oftener, to Port Elizabeth (436 m., two days) East London (543 m., three days) and Durban (823 m., four or five days); Mossel Bay being called at once a fortnight. Steamers also leave Cape Town at frequent and stated intervals for Port Nolloth.

Steamers of the D.O.A.L. (Deutsche Ost Afrika Linie), starting from Hamburg circumnavigate Africa, touching at the three chief Cape ports. The western route is via Dover to Cape Town, the eastern route is via the Suez Canal and Natal. Several lines of steamers ply between Cape Town and Australian ports, and others between Cape Colony and India.

There are over 8000 m. of roads in the colony proper and rivers crossing main routes are bridged. The finest bridge in the colony is that which spans the Orange at Hopetown. It is 1480 ft. long and cost £114,000. Of the roads in general it may be said that they are merely tracks across the veld made at the pleasure of the traveller. The ox is very generally used as a draught animal in country districts remote from railways; sixteen or eighteen oxen being harnessed to a wagon carrying 3 to 4 tons. Traction-engines have in some places supplanted the ox-wagon for bringing agricultural produce to market. The “Scotch cart,” a light two-wheeled vehicle is also much used.

Railways.—Railway construction began in 1859 when a private company built a line from Cape Town to Wellington. This line, 64 m. long, was the only railway in the colony for nearly fifteen years. In 1871 parliament resolved to build railways at the public expense, and in 1873 (the year following the conferment of responsible government on the colony) a beginning was made with the work, £5,000,000 having been voted for the purpose. In the same year the Cape Town–Wellington line was bought by the state. Subsequently powers were again given to private companies to construct lines, these companies usually receiving subsidies from the government, which owns and works the greater part of the railways in the colony.

The plan adopted in 1873 was to build independent lines from the seaports into the interior, and the great trunk lines then begun determined the development of the whole system. The standard gauge in South Africa is 3 ft., 6 in. and all railways mentioned are of that gauge unless otherwise stated. The railways, which have a mileage exceeding 4000, are classified under three great systems:—the Western, the Midland and the Eastern.

The Western system—the southern section of the Cape to Cairo route—starts from Cape Town and runs by Kimberley (647 m.) to Vryburg (774 m.), whence it is continued by the Rhodesia Railway Co. to Mafeking (870 m.), Bulawayo (1360 m.), the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi (1623 m.) and the Belgian Congo frontier, whilst a branch from Bulawayo runs via Salisbury to Beira, 2037 m. from Cape Town. From Fourteen Streams, a station 47 m. north of Kimberley, a line goes via Klerksdorp to Johannesburg and Pretoria, this being the most direct route between Cape Town and the Transvaal. (Distance from Cape Town to Johannesburg, 955 m.)

The Midland system starts from Port Elizabeth, and the main line runs by Cradock and Naauwpoort to Norval's Pont on the Orange river, whence it is continued through the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal by Bloemfontein to Johannesburg (714 m. from Port Elizabeth) and Pretoria (741 m.). From Kroonstad, a station midway between Bloemfontein and Johannesburg, a railway, opened in 1906, goes via Ladysmith to Durban, and provides the shortest railway route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and Natal. From Port Elizabeth a second line (186 m.) runs by Uitenhage and Graaff Reinet, rejoining the main line at Rosmead, from which a junction line (83 m.) runs eastwards, connecting with the Eastern system at Stormberg. From Naauwpoort another junction line (69 m.) runs north-west, connecting the Midland with the Western system at De Aar, and affords an alternative route to that via Kimberley from Cape Town to the Transvaal. (Distance from Cape Town to Iohannesburg via Naauwpoort, 1012 m.)

The Eastern system starts from East London, and the principal line runs to Springfontein (314 m.) in the Orange River Colony, where it joins the line to Bloemfontein and the Transvaal. (Distance from East London to Johannesburg, 665 m.) From Albert junction (246 m. from East London) a branch, originally the main line, goes east to Aliwal North (280 m.). The west to east connexion is made by a series oi railways running for the most part parallel with the coast. Starting from Worcester, 109 m. from Cape Town on the western main line a railway runs to Mossel Bay via Swellendam and Riversdale. From Mossel Bay another line runs by George, Oudtshoorn and Willowmore to Klipplaat, a station on the line from Graaff Reinet to Port Elizabeth. (Distance from Cape Town 666 m.) From Somerset East a line (164 m.) goes via King William's Town to Blaney junction on the eastern main line and 31 m. from East London. The Somerset East line crosses, at Cookhouse station, the Midland main line from Port Elizabeth to the north, and by this route the distance between Port Elizabeth and East London is 307 m. Before the completion in 1905 of the Somerset East–King William's Town line, the nearest railway connexion between the two seaports was via Rosmead and Stormberg junction—a distance of 547 m. From Sterkstroom junction on the eastern main line a branch railway goes through the Transkei to connect at Riverside, the frontier station, with the Natal railways. It runs via the Indwe coal-mines (66 m. from Sterkstroom), Maclear (173 m.) and Kokstad. From Kokstad to Durban is 232 m. The eastern system is also connected with the Transkei by another railway. From Amabele, a station 51 m. from East London, a line goes east to Umtata (180 m. distant). Thence the line is continued to Port St Johns (307 m. from East London), whence another line 142 m. long goes to Kokstad.

Besides the main lines there are many smaller lines. Thus all the towns within a 50 m. radius of Cape Town are linked to it by railway. Longer branches run from the capital S.E. to Caledon (87 m.) and N.W. via Malmesbury (47 m.), and Piquetberg (107 m.) to Graaf Water (176 m.). A line runs N.W. across the veld from Hutchinson on the western main line via Victoria West to Carnarvon (86 m.). From De Aar junction, a line (111 m.) goes N.W. via Britstown to Prieska on the Orange river. From Port Elizabeth a line (35 m.) runs east to Grahamstown, whence another line (43 m.) goes south-east to Port Alfred at the mouth of the Kowie river. Another line (179 m.) on a two-foot gauge runs N.W. from Port Elizabeth via Humansdorp to Avontuur.

A line, unconnected with any other in the colony, runs from