Here is a classic problem we can all relate to: Isn’t it the worst when you build your mega-yacht SO big that it can’t fit under bridges? Such are the pains of being Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who faces a conundrum about how to get his 417-foot boat, known as Y271, out to open water from the port city of Rotterdam, where it is being built. Standing in the way is the 144-year-old Koningshaven Bridge — known locally as De Hef — which cannot accommodate the three 229-foot masts atop the $485 million vessel.
Of course, infrastructure is nothing to a man like Bezos, and you cannot expect the very rich man to trim his masts, so apparently the only thing to do is remove a section of the bridge to let the ship pass. The shipmaker, Oceanco, appealed to local lawmakers, and last week, a spokesperson for the mayor of Rotterdam confirmed that the bridge’s center section would be temporarily removed, with Bezos picking up the tab.
It turns out, though, that Rotterdam residents are not behind their national monument being dismantled at the whim of a billionaire, and several thousands of them are organizing to throw rotten eggs (or tomatoes, if you care to keep it vegan) at the mega-yacht as it passes through this summer.
“Rotterdam was built from the rubble by Rotterdammers and we don’t just take it apart for the phallus symbol of a megalomaniac billionaire,” reads a statement on a Facebook group for the protest. “Not without a fight.”
The Koningshaven Bridge was built in 1878, and has become a beloved city fixture, surviving a Nazi bombing and undergoing a major renovation that took it out of use from 2014 to 2017. The promise made by city officials to never dismantle the structure again is now in question, and Rotterdammers are ready to raise a literal stink about it.
The group currently shows 4,000 people committed to attend, and another 14,000 interested. Due to the widespread public outcry, it appears that the bridge adjustment is no longer approved, and Y271 may need to find another way to sea. Knowing Jeff Bezos, he’ll probably arrange for thousands of underpaid Amazon workers to drag the yacht overland, with a 48-hour delivery guarantee.
Rotterdam resident Pablo Strörmann takes credit for initiating the protest, which he characterizes as playful pushback against capitalist excess.
“I’m a Rotterdammer and I think people with a lot of money should realize that you can’t do everything,” Störmann told the Dutch publication BN DeStem. “With this call we make our voice heard in a playful way. And I think that is going very well.”
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