Netherlands to dismantle 19th-century bridge for billionaire Jeff Bezos’ yacht

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Netherlands to dismantle 19th-century bridge for billionaire Jeff Bezos’ yacht

The Dutch city of Rotterdam will dismantle a historic bridge, built more than a century ago, to allow the passage of a superyacht built for billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The operation, according to the authorities, is necessary because the vessel is too large, and the location of the structure would be the only access to the sea.

The yacht is estimated to be 127 meters long and 40 meters high, but the measurements have not been confirmed by the Oceanco shipyard. They would make the vessel the largest sailing vessel in the world, surpassing the Sea Cloud, a 109-meter sailboat built in 1931, now owned by a Malta-based investment firm.

The press has already reported that Bezos’ boat will feature several luxury items, such as a support yacht and a helicopter landing pad. The vessel is valued at US$ 486 million (R$ 2.5 billion).

The Koningshaven Bridge, built in 1878, is considered a national monument. The structure was designed by Dutch architect Pieter Joosting and served as a model for others around the world.

Used for years as part of a railway, De Hef, as it is known, had to be practically rebuilt in 1940, after World War II bombings hit Rotterdam. Fifty years later, train traffic was discontinued, with a 2,800-meter tunnel being opened to replace a series of railway bridges.

At that time, in the 1990s, local authorities considered toppling De Hef, but gave up after protests from residents. In 2017, three years after a major renovation, the promise that the building would not be destroyed was reinforced.

Now, however, the money of the second richest man on the planet spoke a little louder. According to the city hall, the operation involving the vessel will generate jobs for the region, which would justify the move. In addition, the scheme to dismantle the bridge will be financed by Oceanco, according to officials.

The dismantling of De Hef should begin in the European summer — from June to September — and on the same day the city government promises to start the process of restoring the structure. According to the authorities, there will be no structural changes in the reassembly operation.

Project manager Marcel Walravens said it would not be practical to finish construction of the yacht elsewhere just to prevent the bridge from being dismantled. The yacht is being built in Alblasserdam, 20 kilometers from Rotterdam. “Shipbuilding is an important pillar of the municipality”, he pointed out.

Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, 65 kilometers from the capital Amsterdam, has one of the best port infrastructures in the world and is considered a hub of maritime innovation.

The measure, in any case, was criticized by residents of the region and politicians such as Stephan Leewis, from the Green Left Party. “This man [Bezos] made your money exploiting officials and evading taxes and now we have to tear down our beautiful national monument? This is going too far,” he said. Leewis requested a debate on the issue in Parliament.

Dutch opponents of the operation created a Facebook event titled “Throwing eggs at Jeff Bezos’s superyacht”. As its name suggests, the invitation is for the people of Rotterdam to “take a box of rotten eggs” and “throw them en masse” on the vessel as it sails through the Hef.

This Thursday (3), the page had 545 confirmed people and 2,200 interested in attending.

According to Forbes magazine, Bezos is worth an estimated $166 billion. In addition to being a giant in the e-commerce sector, he also owns the American newspaper The Washington Post and the space company Blue Origin.

Source: Folha

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