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Damen RoPax Ferry 6716 brings new opportunities to Timor-Leste

Posted on April 10, 2024

Improving public transport can have a significant positive impact on the economies and quality of life of regions that were previously difficult to access. In areas of low population density and challenging topography, ferries can be a cost-effective and versatile method of transporting people and vehicles from remote areas to economic and transport hubs.

A recent example of this is a new RoPax Ferry 6716 that Damen has built for APORTIL, the Port Authority of TimorLeste in East Asia. The vessel has replaced a smaller and ageing vessel on a route between the Timor-Leste capital Dili, the Oecusse enclave and the island of Ataúro, thereby providing regular transportation for passengers, vehicles and goods along the north coast of the country.

The Berlin-Ramelau, named after Germany’s capital city in recognition of that country’s financial assistance with the project, and Timor-Leste’s highest mountain, is expected to bring substantial economic and social benefits. Built to take up to 308 passengers plus private and commercial vehicles and cargo, it is increasing access to education and employment for those living in the outlying regions, as well as boosting internal trade. This is due not only to it being a larger vessel. The improved reliability and expanded capacity of the service gives confidence to its users and encourages increased commerce and interaction along its route.

The project was co-financed by the state of Timor-Leste and the government of Germany via the KfW Development Bank. KfW’s involvement has also funded upgrades to the ferry terminals and their transport links. “The ferry Berlin-Ramelau, funded in part by the Federal Republic of Germany with 6 million euros through KfW Development Bank, is a visible contribution to the nation building of this relatively young state,” says Burkhard Hinz, Country Director of KfW Development Bank for Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

“The ferry is mainly operated by a Timorese crew, which additionally contributes to the social and economic development of the country by transporting people and goods. Thus, the Berlin-Ramelau allows the population of the Oecusse enclave to access government services including education and health care, markets and jobs in Dili. Moreover, during COVID-19, the Berlin-Ramelau became a lifeline for the people of Oecusse as the borders with Indonesia were closed.”

With a population of just 1.3 million, the RoPax Ferry 6716 is a significant addition to the country’s infrastructure: 67.3 metres long with a beam of 16 metres and a draught of 3.3 metres, it is capable of a maximum speed of ten knots. It is also very stable and combines high levels of comfort for the passengers with reliability and excellent operational performance for the operator.

By connecting Dili with other ports along the coast it will improve their residents’ access to the markets, education and institutions in Dili, improving their quality of life, as well as providing other important services to Timor-Leste. APORTIL is also undertaking works to improve and build support infrastructure so as to extract the maximum value from its investment.

Burkhard Hinz, Country Director of KfW Development Bank for Indonesia and Timor-Leste

Damen is experienced in supplying ferries to developing countries. In recent years it has delivered a series of coastal ferries to the government of Zanzibar to improve access to and from the islands of the Zanzibar archipelago. Improving the links between the islands and the mainland both supports the tourism industry as well as increasing mobility for the residents. On a larger scale, Damen built four, 35-metre RoPax ferries for Penang Port Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia. Again, this will improve communications between offshore islands and the regional hub of George Town.

Ferries of all sizes can have transformative effects on the communities they serve, and authorities around the world are increasingly looking to take advantage of the highways that in some places flow past their windows.


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