Live TV

Netherlands to dismantle historic bridge for Jeff Bezos' megayacht

02.02.2022

A historic, iconic bridge in Rotterdam is to be temporarily taken down so Jeff Bezos' enormous yacht can reach the sea. Locals are worried about the risk of damage to the monument.

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.

02:10 mins.
Made in Germany | 30.11.2021

Super rich, super polluter

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.

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
An unbeatable record

Dennis Tito was and always will be the first civilian to travel to space. Tito had been a NASA engineer before turning to finance. He had always dreamed of a trip to space and is said to have paid $20 million to have his dream come true. It was hard convincing the big space agencies, but on April 28, 2001, Tito took a ride on a Soyuz rocket and spent six days at the International Space Station.

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
In second place: Mark Shuttleworth

So, the name's fitting — shuttle-worth. But beyond that you'll quickly see a bias emerge. The first space tourists were all nerdy engineers… and all but one were MEN. South African Mark Shuttleworth, an internet and software engineer, flew a year after Tito and is celebrated as the first African in space. We're still waiting for the first Black African to make it — not for want of trying, though.

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
Afronaut: Mandla Maseko

There's never been a Black African astronaut, neither agency-based nor a tourist. Mandla Maseko, a DJ from a township in Pretoria, South Africa, was due to be the first "Afronaut" until he died in a road accident at the age of 30. Maseko had won his chance through a private venture called Ace Apollo Space Academy. Seen as an inspirational figure, he said: "Defy gravity in everything that you do."

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
Third: Gregory Olsen

The third "official" space tourist was millionaire scientist Gregory Olsen. As Tito and Shuttleworth before him, Olsen bought his ticket through a company called Space Adventures and flew on a Russian Soyuz rocket. Olsen sold his own company, Sensors Unlimited, which under new owners Collins Aerospace is a NASA contractor, to pay his way. And he says he'd sell another firm to do it all again.

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
Fourth: Anousheh Ansari

So, it's not only boys who dream of the stars. Anousheh Ansari dreamed of space as a child as well. An engineer, internet technologist and co-founder of the XPRIZE Foundation, Ansari spent 11 days in space in 2006. She is described as the first astronaut of Iranian descent and the first Muslim woman in space. Her foundation champions itself as having "ignited a new era for commercial spaceflight."

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
Science tourist: Helen Sharman

In 1991, Helen Sharman became the UK's first astronaut. Sharman conducted scientific experiments on the Soviet/Russian space station Mir, so hers was a mission in the traditional sense. We're including Sharman because her mission started as a commercial venture, but the company failed. The Soviets, whose idea it was anyway, paid in an act of bettering relations between them and the West.

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
The man who went twice: Charles Simonyi

Charles Simonyi is the first space tourist to have taken two trips. The billionaire software engineer first flew in 2007 and then again in 2009. But Simonyi holds other records, too. At the age of 13, he was selected as a junior astronaut in his native Hungary, and he developed the world's first WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) text editor, Bravo. He thinks humans will live in space one day.

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
Not just gaming around: Richard Garriott

British-American Richard Garriott (left) had an early interest in space travel due to the fact that his dad, Owen, was a NASA astronaut. Family friends and neighbors were astronauts, too. But he became a computer games developer and that's how he paid for his trip in 2008 — but he was also an investor in the space tourism company, Space Adventures. He's known to dress up as a medieval knight.

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
From circus of the sun to the stars: Guy Laliberte

A native of Quebec, Guy Laliberte is the original creative mind behind the world-famous circus company, Cirque du Soleil ("Circus of the Sun"). He spent 10 days at the International Space Station in 2009 and is the last of the old-school space tourists. Following Laliberte's trip, no tourists flew for over a decade. This shot of a Soyuz capsule returning to Earth was almost the end of it. Until…

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
Richard Branson rears his head

Boys and their toys: Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson just had to pip Amazon-man Jeff Bezos at the post. His reward? The US Federal Aviation Administration grounded Branson's SpaceShipTwo for deviating from its flight path as it descended from the edge of space on July 11, 2021. Got to hand it to Branson, though — he's been at it for decades. SpaceShipOne won the Ansari XPRIZE in 2004.

Space tourism: Out of reach for most Earthlings
Just another dreamer: Jeff Bezos

Branson and Bezos (in hat) are competitors. They're also in a private space travel clique with common goals and would get nowhere without each other — or early test pilots Brian Binnie and Mike Melvill and investors like Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen or Peter Diamandis, co-founder of Space Adventures and XPRIZE. On July 20, 2021, Bezos and three others took a suborbital flight. Will you be next?

1
| 11

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)