The MARKETS of the
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Where Registrations of Road Motors Have Increased Nearly 350 per cent. in Four Years. How Desert Routes are Being Mastered by the Motor
TURKEY, with 19,500 miles of roads, is now almost entirely an Asiatic country. Indeed, it is estimated that 75 per cent. of the republic's 4,000 lorries and 500 motorbuses operate beyond the Sea of Marmara. As many as 1,559 commercial vehicles were imported from the United States last year, mostly light models, which are being employed for passenger and light goods traffic. About 1,000 of these vehicles operate around Smyrna.
Three separate states—Syria, Alaonites and Lebanon—constitute the French mandate of Syria, their collective road mileage being 8,641. About i270,000 was spent on roads in 1929, local labour being used in lieu of taxation, and to-day some 4,000 miles of road are macadamized. According to official returns, 1,926 commercial vehicles were running over these roads on June 30th, 1930. Of these 1,585 were American. Fiat was represented by 116 of the remainder ; Bernet by 90; 'Citroen, 53; M.A.N., 36; Renault, 13; Lancia, 10; and Saurer, 3. No British make was represented. North American makers sent 412 commercial vehicles to this market during 1930, a figure not far short of the total sales anticipated in 193'1. Tariff charges vary, according to-weight and horsepower, between 30 and 50 per cent.
So much has been written of late years regarding the motor services over the Syrian Desert that only the most recent developments will be dealt with in this article. The Nairn Eastern Transport Co., Ltd., now operates 16-seater six-wheelers for this trip, a charge of 120 first class and /15 second class being made for the GOO miles from Damascus to Baghdad. About 18,009 passengers B2-1 were 'carried in 1929, the crossing occupying about 26 hours. The trans-desert route is used also for the transport of goods. Haulage rates are rather high, but show a saving over the rates charged by way of the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. New commercial vehicles destined for the Iraq and Persian markets are sent under their own power from Beirut.
Apart from the Beirut-DamascusRutba Wells-Ramadi route to Baghdad a service also operates from Aleppo via Deir-ez-Zor. This route is longer and the "road" is more difficult than that from Damascus, so that it offers little serious competition. A direct service from Jerusalem to Baghdad is available by way of Amman, the main track from Damascus being joined at Rutba Wells. Regular bus services also operate from Jerusalem to Aleppo, via Beirut and Latakia.
Palestine has 1,256 miles of roads, 423 of which have a macadam surface. Over this mileage 511 buses and 385 lorries were operating in 1929. It is probable that these totals increased during 1930, when the record number of 357 commercial vehicles was imported from North America. Most of the units in use are of American make, but on January 1st, 1930, Morris-Commercial was represented by 21, Bean by 7 and Albion by 5. A flat import tariff of 15 per cent, ad valorem, is imposed. The predominance of buses is largely due to the tourist traffic.
Arabia is made up of a collection of independent states and British possessions. Taken separately, all are unimportant markets, with the exception of Hejaz and Aden. Registrations in Hejaz were estimated at 581 buses and 70 lorries, mostly of American make, in 1929. Last year an aggregate of 964 commercial, vehicles was registered ' in all Arabia, the imports from North America totalling 152 units.
Arabian roads worthy of the name aggregate only 1,055 miles, but many of the caravan and pilgrim routes can be negotiated by motor vehicles over the major part of the year. Indeed, this mode of travel is now largely used by pilgrims visiting the holy cities . of Mecca and Medina. • Prior to 1926 pilgrims from all parts of the world made their way to these shrines either by camel or donkey, or even afoot. In five short years much Of this traffic has been appropriated by the motorbus. The logical base ifrz. Jiddah, 65 miles from Mecca.
Nearly 500 motorbuses, operated by pilgrim companies and controlled by Moslem capital, were solely engaged on this work in 1929. Last year, however, owing to a sharp fall in the Dumber of pilgrims, some of these companies got into difficulties and a number of second-hand buses were thrown on to the market. The Government sought to relieve the situation by prohibiting for a time the importation of commercial vehicles. Owing to the hard usage to which they are put, the life of stich vehicles in Hejaz is only about two years, and it is estimated that from 200 to 300 new chassis are required annually to cope with the needs of the pilgrim traffic. Bodies are fitted locally, the most popular chassis, whether for bus or lorry use, being of a capacity of 30 cwt.
The institution of a pilgrim service between Okair, on the Persian Gulf, and Mecca, is a more recent development.. This route, which traverses the centre of '. the Arabian Desert by way of Riyadh, is 800 miles in length. °hair and Jiddali are respectively 300 and 2,700 miles by sea from Basra: and all but 15 of the 1,781 -pilgrims travelling to Mecca from or through Iraq during the season' of 1929 chose to disembark at Okair and cross the desert by motorbuS. This preference was .even more marked in the ease of home-going pilgrims, for only four out of a total of 4,391 pilgrims returning to Iraq in 1929 preferred to go by sea.
'Last 'July 78 motorbUses were in operation in Men, but only one is said to have been imported for three years. As might be expected, the . present stock is feeling the effects of wear, and, as bus patronage is not declining, a good demand is imminent for cheap chassis to accommodate locally built bodies. The sale of lorries is slow, and only 46 light models are in use. Most of these are of American make, but there is a leavening :of :Morris-Conit mercial, -Albion and Bernet: :No import duty is levied, on.commercial
vehicles entering Aden.: ; = . The situation in Iraq is not very clear. According to -official :figures;
1,237' lorries: and ; buses' were registered in 1929,bat .an unofficial estimate quotes 574 lorries -and 99 buses, registered last year. Still another set of'figureS gives' 872 coininerciai vehicles registered on
January " 1930, Crossley being represented by 25 unitS, Albion and Morris-Cofninercial bY 21 each; and Dennis and °Karrier hy three each'. Iraq imported 235 North American commercial vehicles last year,'. figure 42 below the average annual imports from ' that source since 1926. The tariff on commercial vehicles is 12.1 per cent. ad valorem.
Sales of commercial vehicles will be slow until Iraq has better roads. The present mileage is about 4,800, -upon the maintenance and extension of which some £130,000 was spent in 1928. Baghdad has only a few miles of streets where lorries can be operated successfully. As might be expected, light vehicles are most in demand ; 80 per cent. are 1-tonners.
Baghdad has of late years taken
to the bus. Three services -were
started in 1529, the 53 'light chassis purchased for this purpose being fitted with locally built bodies. Baghdad cannot yet accommodate more than 100 buses, and the remaining cities are not yet prepared for motorbuses.
A Persian " good-road " move ment was sponsored last February by the Acting Minister for Public Works, and as this movement develops the demand for commercial vehicles will automatically increase. The country's road mileage is estimated to-day at 7,953, upon which about £1,100,000 has been spent during the past three years Official figures show that there
were 3,645 lorries and 372 buses in Persia last year, and of these 1,282 lorries and 209 buses were in Teheran. Another estimate gives 3,750 lorries and 400 buses on January 1st, 1931. The number of commercial vehicles imported during the year ending March 31st, 1930, was 1,515, and as the total from North America during 1929 was 925 units it is apparent that the American vehicle is losing its former monopoly, particularly in the bus held. • Indeed, North .American exports to Persia last year only totalled 95 units. Business is expected to.be slack during 1931, for last. year many lorries were taken back by importers owing to the inability of buyers to Maintain their payments. Motor vehicles valued at less than £500 enter Persia duty free, but imports are limited by quota.