Dutch mayor denies reports of plan to dismantle 144-year-old bridge for Jeff Bezos superyacht to pass through

Mayor’s comments come after officials reportedly said they would allow the bridge to be partially removed

Holly Bancroft
Friday 04 February 2022 19:06
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The Dutch city of Rotterdam has not received a request to temporarily dismantle a historic bridge to accommodate Jeff Bezossuperyacht despite reports to the contrary, its mayor told local media.

The city’s mayor clarified the situation a day after a municipality spokesperson told the media that officials had given the go ahead for the central section of the famous Koningshaven Bridge to be removed to allow the vessel to pass through.

The Amazon founder’s £375 million ($485m) boat will be the world’s largest sailing yacht at 417ft long, according to Boat International magazine, and its 40-metre high trio of masts is reportedly too tall to make it under Rotterdam’s iconic bridge.

The vessel is currently being built in Alblasserdam near Rotterdam.

The yacht’s builder, Oceanco, reportedly asked the city to temporarily remove the bridge, which dates from 1878, with the company and Mr Bezos offering to pay for the work.

However, the mayor of the Dutch port city has now said that no request for any alteration has been made. Ahmed Aboutaleb told the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad: “No decision has been made yet, there’s not even been a permit application.”

The mayor said it did not matter that Mr Bezos, one of the richest men on earth, was the owner of the ship. He said: “That has absolutely nothing to do with this decision. It’s about the facts. I want to know them first.”

His remarks, which were made in Colombia where he is on a visit, were confirmed by his spokesperson to news agency ANP.

The Koningshaven Bridge was built in 1878

Rotterdam’s local authority project leader Marcel Walravens told RTV that it was “not practical” to partially finish the vessel and complete construction elsewhere.

He said: “If you carry out a big job somewhere, you want all your tools in that place. Otherwise you have to go back and forth constantly.”

“This is such a large project that there are hardly any locations where this work is finished.”

Mr Walravens told a local newspaper that the project will likely happen in summer, with officials hoping that the section of the bridge could be removed and replaced within weeks.

However Ton Wesselink, of the Rotterdam Historical Society, said he did not think the Koningshaven bridge would be dismantled.

He said: “Employment is important, but there are limits to what you can and may do to our heritage.”

The bridge is not currently in use and tall ships usually pass under it before assembling their masts and taller structures.

Dennis Tak, a Labor Party city councillor for Rotterdam, said he was happy with the bridge being dismantled as the process would create jobs.

Referring to Mr Bezos, Mr Tak said: “As a city, this is a great way to to take some of his money.”

The Amazon founder is the world’s second richest person, after Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk.

Jeff Bezos with his partner Lauren Sanchez

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