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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Norway suffering from neglect

It’s not just the railroad that’s been neglected in Norway. A new report shows that public buildings, sewer systems and roads are also in bad shape, and the repair bills will be huge.

Lack of maintenance of critical infrastructure has left Norway with rehabilitation needs expected to cost as much as NOK 800 billion (USD 133 billion), according to a “State of the Nation” report prepared by Rådgivende Ingeniørers Forening (RIF), an advisory group made up of around 7,000 engineers and consultants nationwide. It’s the first time such a comprehensive report has been compiled, and it attracted wide coverage in Norwegian media this week.

Lack of care
Poor public management, a lack of long-term planning and lack of maintenance have left Norway with a long list of problems. While many new, landmark construction projects have been underway in recent years, like the new Opera House and Holmenkollen Ski Jump, Norwegian politicians and bureaucrats haven’t been taking good care of existing structures and infrastructure.

Tom Baade-Mathiesen of consulting firm Norconsult told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), for example, that the state of much of the country’s sewer pipes is so bad that their functionality is threatened. The drinking water system is also under threat.

On a scale of one to five, with five being best, the railroad and sewer systems in Norway were given a grade of just two. Water systems, local roads and highways, hospitals and local government buildings such as schools got just a three. Only the country’s airports, waste collection and energy systems received a grade of four.

Museum treasures falling apart
Norway’s museums are also suffering from poor maintenance, with many national treasures under threat. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that half of Norwegian museums’ culturally historic buildings are in a state of disrepair, including many of the old timber buildings at outdoor museums including Maihaugen in Lillehammer and the Folk Museum in Oslo.

Minister of Culture Anniken Huitfeldt of the Labour Party has promised to present a new national plan aimed at preserving the cultural heritage, by documenting needs and addressing them. Opposition politicians were critical, with Trine Skei Grande of the Liberal Party calling the government’s response “incredibly non-committal.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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