Koningshaven bridge in Rotterdam. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images and Achim Thomae / Getty stock image
The Dutch city of Rotterdam is going to dismantle its historic Koningshaven bridge in order to let Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Y721 superyacht sail through.
The vessel, which is being built in the nearby town of Alblasserdam, will be the world’s largest sailing superyacht when it’s finished.
The decision to dismantle the bridge to allow the yacht to leave the Netherlands comes despite officials promising after the monument was restored in 2017 that the bridge would never be dismantled again.
The historic bridge, known to locals as De Hef, was built in 1878 and had to be rebuilt after it was bombed by the Nazis during the second world war.
Marcel Walravens, the municipality spokesperson for De Hef, told local media that the whole process would take a couple of weeks. “There are a lot of cables on De Hef, and as soon as you remove the first one, it no longer works,” Walravens said. “After that week, we remove the middle part, and with a bit of luck, we will have it back a day later. After that, it will take another week to put everything back in place.”
Rotterdam’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, has tried to justify the decision by claiming that the building of the €430 million superyacht, which will feature an accompanying support boat and helipad, has brought many new jobs to the region. Either way, a spokesperson for Aboutaleb argued that going through the bridge “is the only route to the sea” in a report by AFP on Wednesday.
However, Aboutaleb on Thursday denied that any decision has been made, saying that no such permit to dismantle the bridge has yet been issued.
The reports attracted plenty of local anger. “This man has earned his money by squeezing staff, evading taxes/regulations and now we have to tear down our beautiful national monument?” Stephan Leewis, a councillor for the local Green Left party, said. “That is really going a bridge too far.”
Bezos has promised to pay for the dismantling of the bridge, which is expected to happen this summer.