WFSA adds COVID-19 risk reduction to ferry competition requirements

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Last year's winning design for a RoPax for Lake Victoria was won by a student team from Bremen

The Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA) is adding new requirements for its eighth Annual International Student Design Competition for a Safe Affordable Ferry that reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, students have been tasked with designing a RoPax Ferry for the Amazon River, between Manaus and Tefé, some 200 miles further inland.

Although the design specifications for the competition were released some weeks ago, the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association is asking student teams to consider how their designs could be modified for safe operation in a time of the pandemic.

Given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil (second only to the U.S.), WFSA recognizes that ferry travel may be a mode of virus transmission and is asking student teams — both those that have already registered and those yet to register — to consider design features which might counteract the spread of the virus.

“The infections in Brazil are indeed focused on the Amazon River from Manaus and points west,” says WFSA Executive Director Dr. Roberta Weisbrod. “The ferry is an economic and social life line for people living near the river. There are no roads between Manaus and Tefé and 150,000 take the multi-day trip annually. Ferry safety, the WFSA’s mandate, extends beyond navigation systems and the like — preventing the spread of Covid 19 will now be an important factor for students to consider.”

The WFSA’s international student design competition awards $10,000 annually to teams that the international cadre of distinguished judges deem outstanding. Student teams are also invited to present their work at WFSA’s Ferry Safety and Technology Conference.

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