Making cargo canoes at WAM

Outer islands trainees at the WAM boat building center, from left: Elmi Samuel from Ujae, Frederick Botta from Aur, Roger Kanel from Kwajalein, and Sandy Langbata from Lae.

EVE BURNS

Waan Aelon in Majel (WAM) launched last month its latest three-month boat building program for the outer islands as part of a project called the Low Carbon Sea Transport inside-lagoon boat building workshop.

The workshop is part of the transitioning away from fossil fuel engine boats to sustainable, locally designed and built vessels. The work is a joint effort by the German government’s International Development Agency known as GIZ and the RMI government.

The local counterparts are WAM and the Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation.

The workshop brings in men from the outer Islands and this is the third group of four men to train with WAM. They are from Lae, Ujae, Kwajalein and Aur.

This is a big project that has been running for several years. It has two phases:
• Intra-atoll transportation that involves designing and trialing new vessels suitable for transportation between atolls that use little or no fuel.
• Inside lagoon transportation that involves designing new cargo vessels for inside lagoon transport of passengers and cargo.

Both of these efforts involve WAM, and this workshop is number three in a series that aims to provide the outer islands both with new boats as well as an individual trained in ongoing maintenance and upkeep of local transport vessels to make them sustainable for long-term use.

The workshop is three months long and the aim is to build two inside-the-lagoon cargo vessels, and four Marshallese outrigger canoes: one for each of the trainees to take back home. The goal of the project is to keep fossil fuel where it belongs and advocate for better energy alternatives.

Trainees are Sandy Langbata from Lae, Elmi Samuel Ujae, Roger Kanel Kwajalein and Frederick Botta from Aur. The men said they are very excited to learn the art of canoe building and they told the Journal that they want to learn the skill so they can go back to their home islands, talk to local governments and hopefully starts sharing and training others.

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