The Dutch port city of Rotterdam is planning on dismantling its historic De Hef bridge to allow the passage of a superyacht owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the local council said on Wednesday.
Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, commissioned the building of the three-mast yacht, which tops out at 40 meters (130 feet) high, for the price of €430 million ($485 million) at the Alblasserdam shipyard near Rotterdam.
The bridge, also known as the Koningshaven Bridge, is not big enough to let the boat through and so will be dismantled, with Bezos himself footing the bill for the work.
"It's the only route to the sea," a spokesperson for the city told the AFP news agency. The dismantling is expected to last a few weeks, beginning this summer.
Locals unhappy about the plan
The decision has received criticism. Some locals were angry since the council had promised it would not dismantle the bridge again after major renovations in 2017.
The De Hef bridge was built in 1878 and then rebuilt after suffering significant damage during World War II. Plans to demolish the bridge in 1993 were discarded following pushback from residents.
"We don't have many historic buildings in Rotterdam. Many monuments were lost during the war, and we are very fond of this bridge," Ton Wesselink, president of the Historical Society of Rotterdam, told the EFE news agency.
"It was restored a few years ago, and they promised not to touch it again, so it's not clear why now, just like that, because a boat wants to pass through, we have to dismantle it. There's always a risk that it could be damaged," he added.
No obstacles for Bezos
Bezos, 57, is one of the handful of billionaires who are also pouring millions into private space travel. He has already traveled into space in his own Blue Origin rocket.
He, like many of the world's wealthiest people, also vastly increased his wealth during the pandemic.
The Rotterdam mayor's office defended the special privileges afforded to the billionaire, saying the construction of the megayacht had created jobs in the city.
ab/sms (EFE, AFP)