Thursday 18 August 2022

Bezos boat bridge row: no permit has been requested says mayor

The central section of the bridge will be removed if the plan goes ahead. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP/HH

The row over partly dismantling a landmark bridge in Rotterdam to allow Jeff Bezos’ super yacht to access the sea took a new twist on Thursday, when Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said no request had yet been made.

Speaking in Colombia, where he is in talks about the international drugs trade, Aboutaleb told the AD that no request had been made to remove part of the bridge temporarily and no decision had therefore yet been taken.

The mayor’s comments are noteworthy because city officials have said that the council had decided to vote in favour of the request from the maritime sector, without naming either shipyard or boat owner.

Aboutaleb said that if the request is made, all the interests will be taken into account. That he said, included ‘the economic, particularly our region’s maritime reputation, and the technical: can it be done without damage?’.

The costs would of course have to be paid by the boat’s buyer, he said. ‘I understand that it is election time, but let us wait until we have taken a decision.’

The Netherlands will vote for new local councils in March and the Rotterdam branch of political party GroenLinks has already called an emergency council debate on the issue.

Peter Leenheer, owner of Rotterdam firm Bonn & Mees, which dismantled the bridge for renovation in 2014 told local broadcaster Rijnmond that taking out the central section would not be ‘super exciting’.

‘In principle it can be done in a day,’ he said.

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