THE HAGUE (AFP) – The Dutch port city of Rotterdam has not received a request for a permit to temporarily dismantle an historic bridge to allow a superyacht built for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to pass, local media reported on Thursday.
The city’s mayor denied any decision had been made, a day after a municipality spokeswoman told AFP that officials had green-lighted the shipbuilder’s request to remove the central section of the iconic Koningshaven Bridge, sparking widespread criticism on social media.
Bezos’ gigantic USD485 million three-masted yacht – built in Alblasserdam near Rotterdam – is too big to pass under the bridge, which dates from 1878 and was rebuilt after being bombed by the Nazis in 1940 during World War II.
“I find the turmoil quite peculiar. No decision has yet been taken, not even an application for a permit,” Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad quoted Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb saying on Thursday.
The municipality will make its decision after a permit application is filed and the impact has been assessed, including if it can be done without damaging the bridge and whether Bezos will foot the bill, the mayor said.
“It’s about the facts. I want to know them first,” he told the daily.
His remarks in Colombia, where he is on a visit, were confirmed by his spokesperson to Dutch news agency ANP.
Initial comments suggesting the move had already been approved angered some in the Netherlands, as the local council promised after a major 2017 renovation that it would never again dismantle the bridge, known to Rotterdammers as De Hef.
Bezos, 57, is one of the world’s richest men after transforming online bookseller Amazon into a global shopping giant.
When not travelling by sea on superyachts, he can be found blasting into space on his Blue Origin capsule.