Why did Burgers' Transvaal try to build rail east?

Why did Burgers' Transvaal try to build rail east?

According to shanskraal,

[Thomas Burgers, president of the Transvaal Republic] considered a railway link with the non-British port of Delagoa Bay (Maputo) as essential for the economic survival of the country.

This was in the mid-1870s when the Transvaal was on good terms with Britain and the Cape Colony. Later, in the early 1890s when relations had greatly deteriorated, the Transvaal under the hardline Paul Kruger explicitly sought a railway link to a port not controlled by the British, for strategic reasons. But I am surprised they would be thinking along those lines already in the mid-1870s under the moderate and progressive Thomas Burgers.

Was the Transvaal in fact already thinking about the strategic advantages of a link to the sea that didn't pass through British territory?

Or were there geographical reasons for preferring to go east instead of taking the apparently more economically useful route south through the Orange Free State and the Cape Colony?


… when the Transvaal was on good terms with Britain…

That's very relatively speaking. The Boers in general did not like the British very much, to put it mildly. The Transvaal Republic was founded about 20 years after the Great Trek. The British recognized it, for lack of better options. At its founding, Transvaal wasn't worth marching a battalion of British soldiers, let alone die for it. It was too poor for that. That changed when gold was discovered, but that was in the future.

Building a train line to the west to connect with Portuguese Angola was impossible. Down south was possible, but controlled by the British. Boers were clever enough to understand that this was strategically not a good idea. The only option left over was to build a line east, to connect with Portuguese Mozambique.


Watch the video: Sarie Marais - First Boer War Song