Albert Frederick Calvert.

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Nigerian (Bauchi) Tin Mines, Ltd., registered on
2nd February 1910, with a capital of 200,000,
of which Mr. Oliver Wethered became a director.


The foregoing were the first five companies
registered for the sole purpose of working the
alluvial tin deposits of Northern Nigeria, and they
were all promoted by this pioneer group, compris-
ing Messrs. Walter and Oliver Wethered, and
Mr. S. R. Bastard. All these companies are doing
excellent work, and showing good results. After
February of this year others entered the field,
and since March last a large number of companies
and syndicates have been registered and formed,
several of which are at work.

It was only to be expected that such brilliant
results as these would have the effect of inducing
the more conservative firms to enter into the fields
of Northern Nigerian mineral enterprise, and now
Messrs. Wernher, Beit, the Consolidated Gold
Fields of South Africa, Fanti Consolidated, and many
other leading groups of bankers and capitalists
are represented in the Bauchi Province.


But while the prospecting and actual mining
work being done on the Bauchi field are establish-
ing an ever-widening recognition of its mineral
wealth, its inaccessibility and the difficulties of
transport, which represent its chief drawbacks,
have not yet been overcome, and it may be


opportune to explain here the methods of trans-
port employed in the two Nigerias, to describe the
railway system, and to give some ideas of the diffi-
culties of carriage with which the mine owners of
Northern Nigeria have to contend.

Southern Nigeria, through which the Northern
Protectorate is reached from the coast, is covered
with a network of waterways, which are the
natural transport roads of the entire region, and
the Marine Department is continually surveying
old and overgrown streams and opening up new
river routes. It is possible, travelling by the
Niger River from Forcados to the confluence at
Lokoja, and following from that point the Benue
River to Loko, to arrive within about 180 miles
of Bauchi, or going by rail from Lagos to Jebba,
the present northern terminus of the line, 40 get,
as the crow flies, within 300 miles of that centre.
The river route is obviously the quickest and
cheapest, and is the one still in use, the natives
carrying the tin in parcels of 60 Ibs. weight
on their heads from the field to Loko, travelling
about 1 5 miles a day. At Loko, the metal is
put into small steamers or barges, according to the
season, and conveyed to the confluence, where
it is transferred to Niger boats and taken to
Forcados for shipment to Liverpool, the entire


journey occupying thirty-five days and costing
29 IDS. per ton.


When the construction of the Kano Railway
from Baro on the Niger to railhead is opened, and
the road connecting the railway to Bauchi is
made, the journey will be appreciably shortened.
The completion of the railway from Lagos in 1911
should further reduce it to about twenty-eight days,
and again when motors are available on the new
road, to about three weeks.

The cost per ton by the Forcados-Baro route
will be:

* d.

By sea to Forcados . . . . 200

Forcados to Baro by boat and by a train
from Baro to railhead by cheapest
rate 7 12 6

From railhead to tin field, about . . 900

18 12 6

This will be increased when the maximum
rate is charged, and will be reduced when the
motor transport on the new road is available.


The future cost and time of transport depends
upon the completion of the railway construction at



present in hand, and the decision of the Govern-
ment with regard to the suggested new line to
connect the tin fields with some selected spot
upon the Baro-Kano line of railway. The Lagos
railway to Jebba in Northern Nigeria is 307
miles in length, but although the last constructed
stretch of 6o| miles from Ilorin was only opened
in August last, the line has already been continued
for some 50 miles beyond the Niger, and the
balance of 70 miles to be completed to Zungeru,
the capital of Northern Nigeria, is expected to be
finished early in the coming year. By this
route, when the connecting line from Zungeru to
the Baro-Kano railway is constructed, and the
branch from the latter railway to Bauchi is built,
it will be possible to carry machinery all the
way from Lagos to the new field by train, and
bring the metal down to the port by the same

But although this Lagos railway, as it is still
called, taps a fertile and thickly populated country
and connects the capital of the north with the
coast, it became, with the commencement of the
new Baro-Kano line the second, instead of the
first, most important factor in the development
of Northern Nigeria. Until the year 1907 the
Northern Protectorate possessed in the way of


railways but one light 2 feet 6 inch tramway
of 22 miles in length, which connected its capital,
Zungeru, with Baro, the nearest navigable point on
the river.

It was in May 1907 that Sir Percy Girouard,
the Governor, whose name had already become
famous in connection with his splendid railway
work in the Sudan and in South Africa, formu-
lated the railway policy, and recommended the con-
struction by the Public Works Department of
the Protectorate of a 3 feet 6 inch gauge railway
from Baro, on the Niger River, to Kano, a
distance of a little short of 400 miles, on an
estimate of 3000 per mile. In August of the
same year the Imperial Government sanctioned the
construction of the proposed line.

At the same time the views of the adminis-
trative Southern Protectorate were met by the
extension of the Lagos line into Northern Nigeria,
with a connection to be established from Zungeru
with the Baro-Kano railway, making it possible to
travel from Kano either all the way by rail to
the coast at Lagos, or by rail to Baro, and thence
by river steamers to the mouth of the Niger. It
is expected that the bulk of the exports will follow
the line to Baro, and thence be carried to the sea
by water transport, but the Lagos line serves such


a rich and well populated country, that when the
Port of Lagos has been rendered accessible by
the harbour improvements now in construction,
the line should prove of increasing economic value,
quite apart from any trade it may attract from the
more easterly provinces of Northern Nigeria.


The Baro-Kano railway was put in hand at
an extremely opportune time, and it was while the
work of construction was being rapidly pushed
forward that the discovery of tin in the Bauchi
Province turned the thoughts of railway con-
struction in an easterly direction, and the continu-
ous and consistently rich finds which rewarded
the efforts of prospectors in this region called
daily and hourly attention to its remoteness. At
first it was considered that the formation of a
good road from Bauchi to strike the Baro-Kano
line about Zaria would suffice for the needs of the
field, but the extraordinary extent and richness of
the deposits, and the phenomenal success achieved
by the Naraguta (Nigeria) Tin Mines, Ltd., the
Lucky Chance Mines, Ltd., and other companies at
work there, emphasised the self-evident fact that
nothing less than a branch railway would be


sufficient to adequately develop the new industry.
London capitalists expressed their willingness to
find the money to finance the new line, but the
question was, and still is, under the consideration
of the Colonial Office, and Sir Walter Egerton, the
Governor of Southern Nigeria, and Sir Hesketh Bell,
the High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria, and
Sir William Wallace, the late acting Governor of
that colony, all strongly favour the construction of
the line by the Government rather than by private


Sir Walter Egerton, in an interview he granted
to a Press representative in June last, said :
" Everybody believes the tin deposits to be very
rich, and if only half the reports concerning them
are true, there is more than enough to warrant
the expenditure of making a branch to the tin
fields of the Province of Bauchi. This would give
direct access from the sea at Lagos to the tin
fields. The reports show that the tin alluvial is
similar to that of the Malay Peninsula, which pro-
duces more than half the tin of the world.
Southern Nigeria has already lent the money
required for the construction of the railway to
Kano, and it is a question for the consideration


of the Secretary of State whether we should not
also finance the building of the line to the tin
areas. I should think it would be a great ad-
vantage to Southern Nigeria to have such com-
munication, as a .large traffic might be expected.
If the Secretary of State agrees, there is no
reason to expect that there will be any opposition
in Southern Nigeria to financing the line, for the
success of the tin industry will have a wonderful
effect not only on Northern, but also on Southern
Nigeria, for the Protectorates, though two politi-
cally, are one geographically."


Since this interview was published it has been
persistently rumoured that the Government have
decided to build the suggested line from a point
near Rigachiko, on the Baro-Kano line, to a place
called Toro, between 120 and 130 miles distant,
in the centre of the tin district, and midway
between Naraguta and Juga. The country which
the line would traverse has been surveyed, and a
new road, 1 2 feet wide throughout, and capable of
conveying light motor traffic in the dry season is
being constructed, and will probably be completed


before the end of the present year. But the
Government have not yet announced their decision,
and it is doubtful, although efforts have been
made to induce them to divert the funds for ex-
tending the line from Zaria to Kano for the pur-
pose of the tin fields branch, whether they can be
persuaded to do so. It is believed, as Sir Walter
Egerton said, that if the Government acts on the
recommendation of the Governor of Northern
Nigeria, the Government of Southern Nigeria
would be willing to undertake the construction
of the line, and should the Colonial Office decline
to sanction the scheme, representatives of several
of the companies interested in the new tin field
have expressed their readiness to finance the

As recently as October 2 2 rid a meeting of re-
presentatives of the various Northern Nigerian tin
companies was held at the London Offices of the
Niger Company, when a general committee, to be
named the Northern Nigerian Mines Association,
was formed, composed of a representative of each
of the companies, and a sub-committee, composed
of Lord Scarborough, Mr. S. R. Bastard, Mr.
O. Wethered, Mr. Godfrey, and Mr. Berry was
appointed to deal with urgent business. The chief
attention of this meeting was naturally paid to


the question of transport, and the first business
done was the passing of a resolution urging the
Colonial Office to construct the railway to the
Bauchi tin fields as early as possible. The
Association decided on the appointment of a
medical officer, and they have, furthermore, given
instructions for a hospital to be built on the field
at Joss. It will therefore be seen that everything
possible is being done to urge upon the Govern-
ment the importance of pushing forward this
work, which will doubtless be taken seriously in
hand before long.


Everybody connected with the Protectorate or
interested in the new tin field is agreed as to the
absolute necessity of constructing the line.

Mr. J. Tomson, the chief engineer of the
Anglo-Continental Mines Company, who recently
returned to England after an extended tour in the
Bauchi district, declared that the difficulties of
transport are at present tremendous, but he is
of opinion that they could best be overcome
by running a railway from Minna, a point on
the Baro-Kano line to Naraguta, the capital of


" Before I left," said Mr. Tomson to a repre-
sentative of the Morning Post, " I had an interview
with Sir Hesketh Bell, the Governor, and found
him most sympathetic towards the mining in-
dustry. He recognises that the railway should
be built to the tin fields as quickly as possible,
but of course it is a question of ways and means.
If the Colonial Office came to the rescue and
made a special grant for laying the line, or else
allowed the united mining companies to construct
it themselves, which they are quite willing to do,
all would be well. But it is important that some-
thing should be done at once. If not, there is
going to be a serious difficulty over the food
supply, because so many mining companies have
gone to the Bauchi district that the farmers are
unable to cope with the demand for food. With
a railway to Minna and then along the line now
being laid to Zungeru, which connects up the
Lagos railway and the line from Baro, the ore
would reach port in a few days."

Mr. Beresford, the Secretary of the Adminis-
tration of Northern Nigeria, in an official letter
written to a correspondent, discussing new means
of transport in the Protectorate, says : " A
survey for a road has just been completed, and it
has been found that the Rishi Pass is not a


practicable line, and it is considered that Toro
or Tilde, and not Liruei, should be the point of
objective. It is hoped that by December next
a rough road, fit for carts or light motors, may
be completed to Toro via the Gusu Pass, but the
Governor is strongly of opinion that nothing but
a railway will suit the requirements of the tin
fields, even in the near future, and he hopes that
it may be possible to find funds for such a


When the work of seeing these pages through
the press was nearing completion, a letter arrived
at the London offices of the Tin Fields of
Northern Nigeria, Ltd., from their engineer,
Mr. Jerome J. Collins, describing the means of
transport from the coast to the seat of operations
in the Bauchi Province. The particulars, which
are given from personal experience of the journey,
are both interesting and instructive, as they are
also the last word to hand on the subject, and
the excerpts which follow are published by the
courtesy of the directors of the company, by whom
the letter was received.

Writing from Kogin Jarawa, under date
September 13, Mr. Collins says :


Niger River Transport. Forcados to Baro.

The distance is 407 miles. The Niger Com-
pany, Ltd., and the Government run shallow
draught steamers carrying passengers and cargo.
The Government steamers run a weekly service
in connection with the mail steamers from Liver-
pool. The Niger Company run steamers as
inducement offers.

The time occupied is about ten days by both
services, but a great deal of this time is taken up
with stoppages at the various towns along the

The Government steamers are in a very bad
state of repair, and much time is lost owing to
breakdowns. In the rainy season branch
steamers travel between the ^ coast and Baro, at
present carrying railway material. They have
facilities for handling heavy cargo.

The season extends from July to September.

The Government and Niger Company's boats
have no facilities for handling heavy cargo, being
limited to packages capable of being handled by
native labour, which is tedious and expensive.

The cost of transport by Government steamers
for ordinary cargo from Forcados to Baro is from
405. to 6os., and down from Baro to Forcados is
from 2 is. to 335.


Railway Transport. Baro to Rigachiko.

The distance is 225 miles. The railway is
not yet completed to Rigachiko, where the Bauchi
road starts, but I understand from railway
officials that the line will be through by next
March, 1911. Railhead at present is at Kogin
Serikin Pawa, 172 miles from Baro, but rails are
laid to within fifteen miles of Rigachiko, and this
part of the line will be ready as soon as the
bridges are completed.

The railway is 3 feet 6 inch gauge, and has
been constructed with economy always in view.
Up to the present there is no ballast on the line,
and consequently there are serious delays during
the rainy season owing to derailment of engines
and the washout of embankments. My journey
from Baro to railhead occupied fifteen days ; the
most of this time was lost owing to breakdowns
on the line.

The journey should occupy two days, and I
have no doubt that by March next it will be
possible to get from Baro to Rigachiko in two

The freight on the line at present is 8s. per
ton per mile, equal to 7 ros. per ton from
Baro to Rigachiko, but at present the railway
company will not undertake to transport cargo


unless it is accompanied, and even then they will
take no responsibility.

I understand that in the next year, when the
railway is open to Zaria, the freight will be
reduced to 6s. per ton per mile, equal to
^5 I2s. 6d. per ton from Baro to Rigac-

Road Transport. Rigachiko to Naraguta.

The distance is approximately 135 miles. On
my journey across by this road I took eight days,
which is as quick as can be expected.

The Government engineers are clearing a track
twelve feet wide, and pulling out tree stumps.
They are also grading down banks of creeks to
one in ten.

They are expending 20 per mile on this work,
and have completed fifty miles" in two months.

This road track will come into the tin fields at
Toro, twelve miles north-east of Naraguta, and
twelve miles west of the company's property at
Federri. This track should be finished by the
end of the year.

The country is flat and very easy for road
building. There are four large rivers to cross,
which would require bridges of over 100 feet in
length, and numerous small creeks which could be
bridged cheaply.


There is plenty of stone suitable for road
ballast, available near the road. When the road
track is through to the tin fields it will be possible
to transport stores by carrier in seven days from

It may be mentioned here that the Niger
Company up to the present have had great
difficulty with the prospectors and others travel-
ling up to the tin fields, owing, in some cases, to
their not having left themselves entirely in the
hands of the company. The Niger Company
have practically controlled the country, and have
perfected arrangements by which they can supply
large numbers of natives for carrying goods
from the river to the tin field, but on several
occasions their organisation has been interfered
with by persons offering the natives three or four
times their usual pay in order to get them
through quickly to the fields. This, of course,
as will be seen, is a dangerous policy, for if a scale
is not strictly adhered to, the time will come
when the natives will start attempting to dictate
their own terms.

The Niger Company are not in favour of the
motor route from the head of the Baro-Kano to
the fields. Their opinion is that the money
would be wasted on such a road, and that the


mining community should be satisfied to wait
until the railway is made. Their view is that
the mining companies should join together and
come to an arrangement with the Niger Company
for carrying all the goods along their own route
from Loko to the field via Kefii and Bukeru.
This road, they say, could be reserved for mining
business, and they would open up another route,
starting from a point near Sinkai higher up the
Benue River, which could be used for ordinary
commercial purposes. They point out that with
the rush of goods required for the mines, they
have been unable to get up a sufficient and proper
supply of provisions. This question, of course,
requires careful consideration, as although the
Niger Company wish to be considered as offering
this advice in a purely disinterested manner, it
should be remembered that they are asking for
contracts for the whole of the transport, which
would enable them to employ thousands of natives
at a very low figure.


Meantime the energetic prospecting and mining
work that is being done in the Province of Bauchi
is establishing the fact that the new tin area is of


enormous extent and value both in the nature of
alluvial gravels and the more permanent form
of tin lodes. Mr. Lush, the well-known mining
authority, who has examined a great part of the
Province, estimates that these deposits are
scattered over an area of no less than 2,500
square miles, and the tin produced is considered
to be some of the best ever imported into Europe,
and commands a price equal, if not higher, than
the Straits tin. The land is situated about 3,000
to 4,000 feet above sea - level, and the late
Director of Mines in Northern Nigeria states that
the climate is equal to that of Rhodesia, if not
even better.

" Few people have any idea," Mr. Tomson
asserts, " of the possibilities of this country. It
is quite a mistake to think it is unhealthy.
Naraguta is over 3,500 feet above the sea-level,
and is a healthy and fertile district. Here you are
hundreds of miles away from the malarial swamps
and the coast. If you walk up out of the town
of Naraguta on to rising ground, as far as you
can see stretch out great plains of waving grass,
here and there dotted with masses of the Fulani
cattle. It would make a splendid wheat-growing
district, for the land requires very little cultivation,
and there is no bush country. Kano, which lies


nearly two hundred miles to the north, is a re-
markable place. Several travellers have stated
that it is the largest market in the world."


Mr. Huddart, until recently Director of Mines,
who has declared that the climate of Northern
Nigeria is better than that of Rhodesia, and that the
country is without a single tsetse belt, says :

" The nights are quite cold, and any man who
lives well ought to have perfect health. I do not
reckon it in the least like any other part of West
Africa ; it is more like Eastern Soudan, and it is
known as the Western Soudan. With regard to
water, which, as you know, is a very important
question, it is quite erroneous to imagine that
there is very little water here. In Northern
Queensland and South - Eastern and Western
Australia there is much less water than here ; in
fact there is no comparison between them. Mr.
Lush and I and I had the pleasure of travelling
with him were never at any trouble in getting
water, we never had even to carry water, and
those who have travelled know what that means."

In Nigeria they have only two well-defined
seasons, the wet and the dry season. The wet



season lasts from April till the end of October,
and during that time it is very difficult to do any
prospecting work, although, of course, mining can
be carried on in certain districts. It is during
the dry season, from the end of October to April,
that most of the work can be accomplished,
especially from a prospector's point of view.


Mr. Lush, writing on the subject of the cost
of living and provisions, says " living is cheap,
there being plenty of beef, mutton, fowls, milk,
eggs, &c. Any kind of vegetable grows well,
especially English varieties ; in fact very few
mining fields that I have visited can be compared
to Northern Nigeria in respect of the various
sorts of wholesome fresh food that can be
obtained. In fact all one requires is flour and a
few groceries. The country will provide the rest."


The new mining regulations, incorporated in
the " Minerals Proclamation, 1910," have already
been published in Nigeria, but they are not yet
obtainable in this country, and I am privileged
to be able to reproduce a copy of them as an
appendix to this book. From this document it


will be seen that a prospector must either take
out a prospecting right, which costs 5 per
annum, and entitles the holder to explore for
minerals in those parts of the Protectorate not

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Online LibraryAlbert Frederick CalvertNigeria and its tin fields → online text (page 3 of 11)