Margreeth De Boer, who chaired the investigation into the construction failures at the Bos en Lommer shopping centre, says she was ‘shocked’ by the disregard for human safety shown by those involved in the project. She shouldn’t be.
The Bos en Lommer scandal is just one of a string of dodgy episodes involving Dutch building firms and local authorities. These range from the total disregard for fire regulations – which led to the death of 11 people in a blaze at Schiphol Airport’s detention centre – to the construction sector cartel scandal.
Hundreds of firms were implicated in that distasteful affair in which, it transpired, council officials and builders cosied up to each other in brothels to carve up lucrative contracts.
Amsterdam’s mayor Job Cohen could not say today who would end up footing the bill for the Bos en Lommer debacle. So far, the council – read taxpayer – has coughed up €8m to pay for alternative accommodation for residents who were forced out of their homes for almost a year.
The builders, Hillen en Roosen, shopping complex owner, Fortis, and project developer, Multi Vastgoed, have forked out €20m to pay for the repairs and the buy-back deal with owners who want out. €8m is a lot for the city council but €20m will hardly make a dent in their profits. Shocking indeed.