Chapter XII
Transportation & Communication
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Inauguration of The Assab Port
Dec. 03, 1961
In ancient times, when Ethiopia enjoyed the unencumbered rights of her extensive coastline, such
a name as Adulis, the thriving port on the Red Sea, was a recognized gateway for a flourishing
maritime commerce.  One of the underlying motives for Our journey to Europe in 1924 was to
secure at whatever cost a free port for Ethiopia even if it meant securing one on lease.  And as a
result of Our discussions with the then Italian leader what was proposed to be given to Us as a
concession did not exceed a few thousand square metres of land on the coastline.  But today, by
the grace of God, Ethiopia is master of her territorial wates and her own ports.  Today, We stand
here at a moment when history is to repeat itself, when Ethiopia will again have her own
appropriate role to play in international commerce.  With the inauguration of the port of Assab,
which accords so readily and significantly with Ethiopia's expanding trade, the ocean-borne
carriers of international trade will again shelter and service in Ethiopian waters.
Dream Come True
The opening of the Assab Port is the capstone of a significant chapter in the history of modern
Ethiopia -- the fulfilment of a long-desired dream.  The history of the return to Ethiopia of her
seaports, which this ceremony vividly recalls, is well-known.  Only ten years ago, Ethiopia's
commerce through the international sea-lanes was subject to the wishes and dictates of others.  
Not only was Our country's economic life stifled but being left without any outlet to the sea,
Ethiopia was barred from enjoying the fruits of normal and unencumbered international trade.  
Only those who have been required by geographical position or historical circumstance to live
without a port opening on an international waterway can appreciate the full measure of the
restrictions which are attendant upon a land-locked life.  It is unfortunate that even today, certain
countries of the world suffer form the same predicament.  As We said on this very spot years ago
when We here laid the cornerstone for the construction of this now happily completed project:  
"No Ethiopian of this or future generations can afford to forget the disadvantages under which Our
country suffered in the days when We had no access to the sea."
Great Destiny
In these days of growing international contacts, when the world is becoming ever more closely
knit, when Ethiopia's economy continues to expand, the Port of Assab is destined to play a
significant role, not only in keeping open the dispatch routes for our commerce, but in rendering to
the world's merchant shipping those maritime services necessary for the unhindered flow of men
and materials that have become an indispensable part of world life.  This Port and its activities will
redound to the welfare of the entire country.  Situated as it on the north-east edge of the Ethiopian
plateau, the people of this region will be the first to enjoy its benefits, but, ultimately, the impact
which it will have on the standard of living of the Ethiopian people will be felt by all.  Enhanced
communications facilities stimulate trade, which in turn stimulates further increases in
production.  This Port, in conjunction with the system of roads which is being expanded, have been
given the highest priority because of the vital role which they play in the development of the nation
and the exploitation of its God-given wealth for the benefit and welfare of Our people.
Yugoslav Assistance
On this occasion, We must recall the significant part played in the accomplishing of this task by the
healthy relationship so happily existing between Ethiopia and Yugoslavia.  We and Our people
shall remember with gratitude the invaluable assistance of H.E. Marshal Josip Broz Tito who, be
readily accepting Our suggestions in connection with this Project, greatly contributed to its
successful completion.  The assistance afforded in the construction of this Port remains a symbol of
Ethio-Yugoslav relations and friendship, which We fervently hope will continue to develop to the
mutual benefit of our two countries.  We are pleased to welcome today Yugoslavia's special
delegate to this ceremony, His Excellency Mr. Marin Centinic and We ask that he carry Our words of
thanks with him to his country.

We must also refer to the painstaking work undertaken and performed by Pomgard, work
prosecuted with such diligence that this programme has been completed ahead of schedule.  To
them, and to all who have participated in this project, all thanks are due.

The Hand of the Almighty has been constantly evident in guiding Ethiopia along the path of
progress and development.  It is He who ordained that Ethiopia's seaport should be returned to the
Motherland during Our time.  It is He who crowned the labours here at Assab.  We invoke His
blessing upon this Port in the hope that henceforth it will be a blessing to the lives of Our people.

In the spirit of national dedication, We call upon those who will administer this Port, and upon all
whose lives will be touched by its operations, to ensure that the Assab Port proves worthy of its
heritage and challenge, so that by its hospitality and efficiency, it may win the friendship and
admiration of international sea-farers.
Haile Selassie the First - December 3, 1961