Dili, 31 May 2019 (Lusa) – The Timorese Government signed a contract with Dutch shipyard Damen today worth 18.6 million euros (20,78 million dollars) for the construction of a new ship to operate on the north coast, a project supported by cooperation German.

Timor-Leste will pay most of the cost of the project (about 14 million dollars / 12.6 million euros) and the German Government the remaining 6.7 million dollars (6 million euros), with the contract covering the “design, construction, supply and delivery to the Timorese Government”.

Damen Shipyards Gorinchem, which has more than 35 companies, 8,000 employees and yards in several countries, has decided that construction, scheduled for 19 months, will be held in Yichang, China.

The contract was signed in Dili by the Timorese Transport and Communication Minister, José Agustinho da Silva, and Damen’s regional commercial director, Gysbert Boersma.

“This modern ship responds to the highest standards, reducing costs and improving the efficiency of transport,” said the minister, noting that 20 Timorese have already been trained, with German support, for the sector.

“It will be the only ship in Timor-Leste certified for safe transportation, including hazardous materials,” he said, thanking German for the project.

The president of the Port Authority of Timor-Leste (Aportil), Constantino Soares, explained that the ship will allow to strengthen the transport services in the north coast of the country, already between Díli, the enclave of Oecusse and the island of Ataúro.

Later, he said, when the necessary works are completed, the transportation will be extended along the rest of the coast of the country.

For Gysbert Boersma, the ship could be the beginning of “much more extensive cooperation” between the Dutch company and Timor-Leste, which may include support for fisheries, shipbuilding, oil and natural gas.

“It will be a great ship, we are honored to be able to increase the mobility that is essential for economic development,” he said, “in 19 months they will receive a ship of great quality.

“Damen is more than just ships, I hope this can be the beginning of a great relationship. We want to ensure that Damen can support more projects, help generate economic activity and employment,” he said.

The ceremony was attended by several members of the Government, including the Minister of State in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Agio Pereira, several deputies and officials of various Timorese public institutions.

Designed by IMS Nord in cooperation with Aportil, the ship will have a length of 67 meters, a width of 16 and a draft of 3.3 meters, according to the specifications now announced.

With a deck of 4.8 meters and a maximum speed of 10 to 12 knots, the ship will have a capacity of transport of 380 people and of more than 940 tons of cargo, with a crew of 16 elements.

The ship will replace the Nakroma, currently making the connection between Dili, the Oecusse enclave and the island of Ataúro, and in need of repairs.

The ceremony took place two days after the current president of Aportil was informed that he will be replaced in office as early as Monday by the former deputy minister of Transportation in the 5th Timorese Constitutional Government Flávio Cardoso Neves.