Jeff Bezos is powerful, but not powerful enough to take down a bridge in Rotterdam for his mega yacht

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The founder of Amazon, who is one of the richest people on the planet, will have to wait to start enjoying his latest acquisition. Jeff Bezos has ordered the largest sailing yacht in the world from the Dutch company Oceanco, but it faces a big problem: the boat is so big that in order for it to go out to sea, the Koningshaven bridge in Rotterdam must be dismantled.

The idea of ​​altering a national monument has caused great controversy in the Dutch city. While the city council would be willing to grant a permit for such tasks, some residents organize a protest on Facebook to “throw rotten eggs” at Jeff Bezos’ yacht. Faced with this scenario, Oceanco has decided to abandon its intentions to dismantle the iconic bridge, according to Trouw.

Oceanco in trouble with Jeff Bezos’ yacht. A project of such magnitude had to have a company that was up to the task. Thus, the construction of the largest sailing yacht in the world fell into the hands of Oceanco, one of the most renowned players in this sector. Based in the Netherlands, it has built some of the largest and most luxurious vessels in the world at its Alblasserdam shipyard.

Throughout its 35-year history, it had not had too many problems getting its yachts to sea. Passing through the different bridges between the shipyard and the North Sea was something almost routine, until one day they embarked (pun intended) on a very ambitious project: a huge sailing yacht with three 127-meter masts each.

A bridge too low (and historic) in the way. On the way to the North Sea is the Koningshaven Bridge. A green-tinted twin-tower structure that was completed in 1927 and was badly damaged in 1940 during the bombing of Rotterdam. The story goes that in the early 1990s the authorities tried to demolish it, but the people objected and it ultimately survived.

Thus, the structure became a symbol and the city council, after a restoration carried out in 2007, promised not to touch it again. The problem? The bridge has 40 meters of free space, and the masts of Jeff Bezos’ yacht 127. No calculations are necessary. There’s just no way I can get through it. Consequently, it was concluded that it had to be dismantled to allow its passage.

Oceanco’s proposal. In February of this year it transpired that the company had proposed to dismantle part of the Koningshaven to allow the passage of the yacht. The city council said at the time that it could grant a permit, but it established a series of conditions. On the one hand, in order to reduce the risk of damage, the tasks should be carried out by experts. On the other hand, Oceanco should bear all the expenses.

Although the company had not yet submitted a formal request to dismantle the bridge, everything seemed to indicate that it would not have too many obstacles to achieve it, but the rejection of the residents was not long in coming. According to WinNewsmore than 1,200 people rallied on Facebook to stage a protest and “throw rotten eggs en masse at Jeff Bezos’ superyacht” if he tried to get through.

Oceanco backs down. Trouw, through the legislation that guarantees “freedom of information”, managed to access part of the city council’s documentation on the request to dismantle the bridge. The same reveal that since 2017 Oceanco has tried to get political support to dismantle the bridge, however, it has now decided to stop insisting.

The reasons behind the change in position, according to the information provided by the city council to the Dutch media, are due to the fact that the company fears that acts of vandalism could damage the yacht as it passes through the bridge. In addition, it considers that this situation is threatening the safety of its employees.

Few alternatives on the horizon. With the recent change in position it is not clear how Oceanco will navigate the yacht from its shipyard in Alblasserdam to the North Sea. While the company has not responded to local media requests for comment, one of the alternatives would be to complete the construction of it at another shipyard closer to the sea.

Another alternative that would be on the table is to reach a new agreement in which the other local shipyards are included. The companies would hide behind the importance of the naval sector for the region’s economy to achieve this. In this case, the bridge could be dismantled twice a year, for a maximum period of three weeks. Of course, in any case, the power of the residents must be taken into account.

In the past they managed to prevent the bridge from being demolished and recently from being dismantled. Will they allow the structure to be modified twice a year? Some seem to dislike the idea. “Are we going to bow our heads to Jeff Bezos just to give him his boat of fun?” told the Financial Times Paul van de Laar, head of the history department at Erasmus University Rotterdam. With time we will know how this story continues.

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