anm document

Main d'oeuvres. Chemin de fer.
Correspondances sur Thiès-Niger (1932)
in ANM K 70 fonds recents

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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Directeur du Chemin de Fer, "Avis au public," (April 11, 1932)

Navétane rates ranged between 15 and 60 francs, according to the Zone where the ticket was purchased. The Soudan was divided into 6 zones. The largest number of stations were located in Zone 2 (Mediné-Mahina) and Zone 5 (Badinko-Bamako).

Directeur du Chemin de Fer Chardy to Lt. Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
letter n°286K (Thiès, May 10, 1932)

Navétane recruitment more than 400 workers away from the work of reconstructing the Chemin de Fer Kayes-Niger. The railroad director asks that recruitment efforts for navétanes be made in such a way as to protect the existing work force on the railroad.

Directeur du Chemin de Fer à Lt Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
letter n°385K (Thiès, June 21, 1932)

Navétanes leave for Senegal between April 15, 1932 and June 30, 1932, and return between November 16, 1932 and January 16, 1933. Nearly 7,000 had left by June 21, 1932, but they resented the rule that required them to obtain and present travel permits (laissez-passers). The Directeur du Chemin de Fer feared that they might switch to automobile transport, even though it cost more than the train. He suggested that the railroad be permitted to create a permanent navétane rate calculated at 0.15 francs/kilometer per man. This would allow the navétanes to purchase their tickets in the fall when they returned with their earnings, instead of waiting until next spring when money would be short.

Directeur du Chemin de Fer Bosc, "Tarif Special Temporaire G.V." n°1 bis
(Thiès, July 20, 1932)

The railroad created a special passenger rate for navétanes headed to Senegal. The Soudan was divided into four zones based on Kayes, Mahina, Kita and Bamako, and Senegal was divided into five zones. Navétane ticket prices ranged from 35-145 francs. Tickets went on sale from November 16, 1932 to February 20, 1933 for departures between April 15 and June 30, 1933.

Since this rate was even less than the usual 4th class ticket rate, there was a problem with people who pretended to be navétanes. The railroad decided that a local authority had to issue a laissez-passer (permit to travel) before someone qualified for the navétane rate. These permits had a value of their own, so the railroad had to create measures to prevent chefs de canton and other local authorites from extorting money in exchange for issuing a pass.

In 1932, there were relatively few people who took advantage of the special navétane rates, so the French tried to increase interest with publicity, reduced prices and increased periods of availability.

"Transport des navétanes par groupes du Soudan sur le Senegal,
Tarif Special G.V. Temporaire"
n°3 bis (October 3, 1932)

This modified the previous tariff n°1 bis. navétanes were permitted to depart between May 1 and June 25, 1933. Fares between the four cercles of the Soudan and the five zones of Senegal ranged between 20 and 55 francs. Navétanes had to travel in groups of at least 50 with a leader who got the tickets, and the tickets had to be purchased at least 48 hours in advance. Travel was in 4th class cars or freight cars.

Gouverneur du Soudan Français Fousset to
Directeur du Chemin de Fer, n°754 (Koulouba, October 24, 1932)

The Governeur of Soudan agreed with the idea of a permanent railroad rate for navétanes, but cautioned that if the navétanes were pressed to sell their crop after the harvest in order to buy their train ticket, they would suffer because the prices for their crop would be lowest at that time.

Administrateur en chef Duranthon to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
telegram n°AE16-3-33 (Kayes, March 15, 1933)

Navétanes left earlier in 1933 than in previous years. Duranthon attributed this to the economic situation. (NOTE: In other words, there was no work in the Soudan and they needed money, so they headed to Senegal to try their luck.)

Note on letters from Kita

Several letters from Kita concern the problem posed by individuals who show up at the station expecting to receive the navétane rate. In the end, the railroad administration decided that the groups of 50 (required to obtain the special passenger ticket rate) could be composed of men who boarded at different stations, but all of the stations had to be within the same cercle. [See Commandant du Cercle de Kita, telegram n°148 (May 20, 1932).]