Dutch Public Works Dept. wasted €1 million on useless speedboats

Coast guard ship the Barend Biesheuvel in the port of Scheveningen
Coast guard ship the Barend Biesheuvel in the port of Scheveningen. (Photo: FaceMePLS / Wikimedia Commons)

Dutch public works department Rijkswaterstaat spent a million euros on two speedboats that can not be used, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management informed the lower house of Dutch parliament, NOS reports.

The speedboats were ordered in 2015. They were intended to be used with the Barend Biesheuvel - the Dutch Coast Guard's largest inspection ship. The Barend Biesheuvel checks that Dutch fishermen on the high sea comply with the rules. The Coast Guard wanted to use the speedboats to reach offenders quickly, but the speedboats aren't suitable for use in this way. They can capsize if they sail at high speeds on a rough sea. 

According to the Volkskrant, which received this information by appealing to the Freedom of Information Act, Rijkswaterstaat made a mistake in the tendering process for the speedboats. The department incorrectly formulated the performance requirements that the boats had to meet. The documents stated that the boats had to be able to sail at high speed and through high waves, but not that they should be able to do both at the same time.

In her letter to parliament, Van Nieuwenhuizen said that the amount can not be recovered from the supplier. The speedboats are also too large to use on rivers or inland water. Last month Rijkswaterstaat tried to auction the boats off at cost price, but that failed. The Minister is now looking into whether the boats can be used on the Caribbean.

Van Nieuwenhuizen will also investigate the tender for errors, according to the broadcaster. And the contract for speedboats for the Barend Biesheuvel will be re-tendered. 

An interesting point is that the previous speedboats for the Barend Biesheuvel also did not meet requirements. A Rijkswaterstaat report from 2013 states that there were too many concerns about the safety of the boats. In this case too, mistakes were made during the tendering process, according to NOS.