Sat, 20 Aug 2022

Dutch shipbuilder walked back on the plan to dismantle an iconic city bridge amid public outcry over city landmark, local media report

A Dutch company building a superyacht for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has reportedly scrapped its plans to ask the Rotterdam authorities to dismantle an iconic city bridge to make way for the boat, following public outcry.

According to local news site Trouw, Oceanco, a company that was commissioned to float out the €500-million ($520-million) yacht, backed down on temporarily taking apart Koningshavenbrug bridge, more commonly referred to as "De Hef."

The three-mast, 127-meter-long (417-ft) ship, which is set to become one of the largest yachts in the world, is too tall to pass under the bridge, as De Hef has only a 40-meter (131-ft) clearance. For the vessel to safely reach the sea, the middle section has to be temporarily removed.

Although Oceanco and Bezos have reportedly agreed to cover all the costs associated with the works, the plan to take the bridge apart sparked fierce backlash, with thousands of local residents reportedly threatening to throw rotten eggs at the yacht if it sails through the city.

According to Trouw, Oceanco was so shocked by the pushback that it shelved all the plans. Moreover, unnamed shipyard employees reportedly said that they felt threatened, while the company feared it could be vandalized. For that reason, local authorities apparently didn't disclose some documents detailing the plan to disassemble the historic Koningshavenbrug construction.

It is unclear what Oceanco intends to do now that the option of dismantling the bridge is off the table. At the same time, according to the outlet, the company may opt to complete work on the vessel at facilities closer to sea.

The modern version of the 150-year-old bridge spanning the Maas River was unveiled in 1927. It sustained heavy damage from German bombs during World War II and became one of the first structures in the city to be restored. In 1993, it ceased to function as a railway bridge but has remained a national monument.

Various local activists have voiced their opposition to dismantling the bridge. In February, Ton Wesselink from local history society Historisch Genootschap Roterodamum said, as quoted by broadcaster Rijnmond: "Jobs are important, but there are limits with what you can and should do with our industrial heritage."


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