Solvik-Olsen now set to sail

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Norway’s transport minister, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, has avoided being called into a disciplinary hearing in Parliament, for allegedly forcing the ministry’s communications out of her job. He wasn’t satisfied with her reluctance to arrange a summer road trip for him in 2014, but that hasn’t put the brakes on his wanderlust. Now he’s planning to sail along Norway’s coast this summer.

Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen plans to travel along the Norwegian coast this summer by a variety of means. PHOTO: Samferdselsdepartementet/Susanne Stephansen

Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen plans to travel along the Norwegian coast this summer by a variety of means. PHOTO: Samferdselsdepartementet/Susanne Stephansen

Solvik-Olsen got in trouble for mixing politics into the work done by non-partisan civil servants at his ministry. Acting on complaints and articles in newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), the parliament’s disciplinary committee sent a list of questions to Solvik-Olsen that he had to answer about the circumstances regarding the eventual transfer of the ministry’s communications director, Anne Marie Storli, after Solvik-Olsen expressed his dissatisfaction with her work.

He responded to the committee that Storli’s claims he’d sought political assistance, especially in arranging a road trip he took from Southern- to Northern Norway in the summer of 2014, were “groundless.” He refused media comment, claiming the entire conflict was “a personnel matter,” but he did send a seven-page response to the parliamentary committee.

In the end, there wasn’t majority support on the committee to open a disciplinary case against Solvik-Olsen. He has refused to comment on being let off the hook, and already is busy planning a new journey along Norway’s long coastline this summer.

Cleared to start cruising
Solvik-Olsen now intends to travel on cargo ships, fast-ferries, conventional ferries, pilot boats, tug boats “and gladly on a Colin Archer,” he wrote on the ministry’s own website. “I’ll start in mid-June, and travel in order to listen and learn about the sea as a transport artery.”

He called for tips from the public and people living and working along the coast regarding “what I should see and who I should meet.” His goal is to meet and talk “with folks who live along the coast, local businesses, transport firms, passengers, local politicians and organizations.”

Solvik-Olsen will be traveling with the rest of the political leadership in the ministry.”The coast and the sea have given Norway riches for generations,” he said. “That will continue, but we need to think in new ways, think big and not be afraid of a future in which oil revenues won’t be as important.

“We politicians often are too distanced from the challenges and possibilities most folks experience and see,” Solvik-Olsen said. “I’ll travel along the Norwegian coast because I want to see, and experience, listen and learn.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund