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Opening Up Corners of Earth.

HOW BRITAIN BUILDS ROADS IN OUTLYING PAETS OF EMPIRE.

Great Britain is just at this time at an t.norinous cost carrying on a •work in the va&t mountains ot the Himalayas. The •etret of the success of the British Empire has always been the faofc that where the Uirchinegun and the rifla have cleared a passage there has always followed the •ihool teacber, tha merchant, and last, bat uu.fct important, the builder of great highways and roads. And along these roads constructed by native labour under Eng-H-h instruction there has always passed and ippassed a" volume of trade that has !'ound the island kingdom to the voty remotest colonies brought under the British euHgn. la the lofty mountains of Tibet and of India and along the sultry table laud of South Africa and leading on up through darkest Africa to the Soudan and thence into the valley of the Nile, myriads of natives of scores of nationalities have strutched broad roads which have been the oio-t valuable surety of peace and progress for both the natives themselves and the Brithh merchant, who not only always follows but very frequently piecedes the flag of his native land. ?■ nd where the natives are difficult to handle or indisposed to work, GreatBritain does not hesitate to take the rifles from the hands of her soldiers and to place there the spade of the sapper and the itnp'ements for constructing broad and solid highways after the manner of the Romans o'i old, whose highways started from the imperial city of Rome and led on one side to the very shores of the Atlantic, while od tho other the Roman road led through Inriia to the then unexplored fastnesses of Central Asia. SOLDIERS BUILD HIGHWAYS. Troop 3 are not infrequently employed in India on the construction of roads, especially those intended for military purposes. Of troops employed oa such work the greater numbor—infantry, to wit—must be looked on as amateurs, though many of these men, given sufficient opportunity, become quite expert at various branches of the work. For the rest what may be termed the professional roadmakers of the army consist of'the three corps of sappers and miners and pioneer battalions.

Such military labor is paid for in or two ways—working pay and contract In payment by working pay daily fixed rates are given, according to rank and class of work, thus a man who is a good brickmaker commands more pay thnn one who can do nothing more elaborate than ordinary excavation. But for the rank and file— and they are the labourers—it is found that working pay does not amount to much; in fact, it is barely sufficient to recoup the men, for what they expend in clothes and boots, which do not last long at such rough work. Under the contract system & given sum of money has been estimated as the total cost of a certain tection of road, and the corps concerned becomes a contractor, take 3up the work, provides all necessary tools and, after deducting the ordinary pay of all ranks, makes what it can out of the contract by doing the work in its own way —within certain limits of time and workmanship of course. A further modification of thiß latter system, and the one on wh;ch the Afghan road was worked, was as follows: The Military Works service was really the contractor; it lent tools, supervised the work, and when finished, measured x\p what had been done and paid according to mtea which had been submitted for approval before operations began. By this plan the work on tho road was kept separate from such items as pay an I rationing the men, which was carried out in the usual way, and tbu3 regiments were saved considerable confusion and difficulty. But all the same, when the work was final'y measured up, it was discovered that, though tho men had worked very hard, the monetary results wore small. BUILDING TN CENTRAL AS[A. The cantonment of Lansdowno, situated in the Central Himalayas at ah altitude of 5,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level, came into existence on November 4, 18S7, when ife was occupied by a newly raised battalion of Garh-walin—a hardy race of small mountaineers. Since then the cantonment has continued to grow, until for the past four yefii'3 its; Kan ison has comprised four battalions - two of Goorkhta ami two of Garh»valif. For the long want of a suitable lina of communication with the railway has boen keenly I olfc; but tho usual excuse - scarcity of funds-has proved an insurmountable obstacle, and co this large garris >n lias had to remain more or less cut off. But ac;ain the raattor was stf.ngly urged an i a. little over a yo sr ago a cart road was a motioned on tho conditions that the troop." at Lanedowne should contribute their share of work. '] his was readily agreed to, for everyone concerned well knew trmt as soon i»3 the cart road was completed the cost cf living and the price of all articles, A-hether necessaries or luxuries 3, would be largely reduced. Three of the four battalions each undertook to put 250 men on the work, tho fourth "battalion being still young and its men requiring a good deal of military training before it could afford to do any kind of extra work. A company of sappers and miners from Eoorkee also came up to Lanadowne for six months, and shortly after they left half a battalion of pioneers was to go on with the work. The old bridle path wa9 twenty miles in length from the railway, whereas the new cart road is twenty six and a half. The lowor ten and a half miles were'given to the public work.T department to construct, whereas the military woiks service was made responeible for the upper section of fixteen mile 5. The lower section and two miles of tho upper has a gradient of 1 in 50, while tho rest of the road rises 1 foot in 20. The upper part, as well as being; very Bteep for a cart road, has no fewer than niue exceedingly acute turns owing to its having to be zig-zatgged in order to -.climb up to the necessary height in its restricted longth. Thia road into Central Asia is intending to lead eventually straight to tho hidden city cf Tibet. Once this is complete the Biilish influence will be more benefited than by a standing army of 100,000 mon. It is the old method of thj Eoman conquerors applied to modern empire luildiug by the keen sighted Driti&here.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19050707.2.27

Bibliographic details

Opening Up Corners of Earth., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6615, 7 July 1905

Word Count
1,107

Opening Up Corners of Earth. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6615, 7 July 1905

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