Photo: An artist impression of the new RoPax. Image Courtesy: Damen

Damen to Build New RoPax for Timor-Leste

The Republic of Timor-Leste and the Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards Group recently signed a contract for the provision of a new roll-on/roll-off passenger (RoPax) ferry.

As informed, the vessel will operate a route between the Timor-Leste capital Dili, the Oecusse enclave and the island of Ataúro, providing regular transportation of passengers, vehicles and goods on the north coast of the island.

Damen will conduct the design and management of the project at its head office in the Netherlands and construction of the vessel will take place at Damen’s Yichang Shipyard in China. Upon completion of its construction, the vessel will be delivered to Dili.

With an aging vessel currently in operation, the Port Authority of Timor-Leste IP (APORTIL) decided to invest in a new ship that would begin operations in 2021. In a project co-financed by Timor-Leste and the Government of Germany, the RoPax is expected to lower operation costs, increase the reliability of the service, and improve employment opportunities due to the improvement in transportation networks.

In preparation for the ferry’s arrival, APORTIL will undertake work to improve and build support infrastructures over the next 19 months.

The extension of these maritime passenger connections will initially include a connection between Dili and Com, in addition to those already in place between Díli, Ataúro and Oecusse, with the aim of improving the quality of life of the populations in these areas, according to Damen.

“This new ferry will help to connect Dili with other ports on the south and east coasts of Timor-Leste and improve access to market, education and institutions in Dili and provide other important services to Timor-Leste,” José Agustinho da Silva, Timor-Leste Minister of Transport and Communications said at the contract signing.

The RoPax ferry 6716 will have a length of 67.3 meters, a width of 16 meters and a draft of 3.3 meters. The vessel is capable of a maximum speed of 10 knots and will have a carrying capacity of 380 passengers.