Japan Ambassador Norio Saito handed over 18 boats and a radio communication system to Natural Resources and Commerce Minister Sandy Alfred in a ceremony at Uliga Dock May 25.
The ceremony was witnessed by President David Kabua, Reverend Palukne Johnny, President of United Church of Christ, Minister of Works, Infrastructure and Utilities Jiba Kabua, Minister of Works, Infrastructure and Utilities, Minister of Health and Human Services Bruce Bilimon, MIMRA Director Glen Joseph, and other officials.
The boats and radio communication system are part of the equipment granted through the Economic and Social Development Program of Japanese Grant Aid, signed on March 10, 2016. The total value of the equipment handed over was $920,000.
Of 18 boats, two 38-foot boats will be anchored at Majuro and Ebeye for transporting goods and services between Majuro and nearby islands such as Rongrong, Arno and Mili; and between Ebeye and nearby communities such as Lib, Namu and Ujae. The safety of those two boats will be watched over through radio communications from the terminal at Uliga fish market. These boats will be under the authority of MIMRA.
The remaining 16 smaller boats will be distributed to 16 atolls for intra-atoll transportation of residents and goods, which is expected to meet basic needs of the residents and vitalize industry in the neighboring islands.
At the ceremony, Ambassador Saito stated that Japan has been committed to the vision of “Strengthening the Basis for Resilient and Sustainable Development” of the Marshall Islands since it the Eighth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM8) held in Japan in 2018 endorsed the concept.
“It is our pleasure, therefore, on behalf of the people and government of Japan, to assist in Marshall Islands’ efforts in betterment of living conditions of the islands’ residents and promotion of local industry,” said Saito.
He added, “As the Ninth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM9) is coming up, I sincerely hope that cooperative relationships between the Marshall Islands and Japan be further enhanced in future.”
Minister Alfred stated that boats are truly needed in the remote communities as a means of transportation, and expressed his gratitude on behalf of the people and government of the Marshall Islands.