State officials and construction experts estimate it can take as long as five years and cost NOK 6 billion (more than USD 1 billion) before Norway’s government has a permanent headquarters again. Rebuilding efforts after a terrorist’s bomb in July remain a daunting task.
The government minister in charge, Rigmor Aasrud of the Labour Party, told reporters this week that it still hasn’t been decided whether her government colleagues can ever return to the buildings in downtown Oslo that were heavily damaged in the July 22 attack. A decision is expected, however, by the end of the year.
In the meantime, engineers and construction crews are still trying to determine whether the buildings are structurally sound and can be repaired. Workers from Statsbygg, the state agency in charge of public buildings, have concentrated so far on trying to make them secure, by removing loose material from facades, ceilings and walls.
The decision on whether the government can return to its downtown complex is subject to both political and technical evaluations.
“It will be based on both safety and costs, but also on what is the best way to organize a government now,” Aasrud told newspaper Dagsavisen. The current location near the Parliament is “practical,” she said, but also involves security issues. It may no longer be a good idea, for example, to have nearly all government ministries clustered together as they have been for decades.
She also pointed to the cultural value of the buildings, many of which contain public art projects and have been important symbols over the years. The high rise that has contained the Justice Ministry and Office of the Prime Minister, for example, features works by Carl Nesjar and Pablo Picasso.
No one can say for sure what it will cost to renovate or tear down and build new ministerial offices. Aasrud noted that a new building for 400 workers was already under construction when the bomb went off, and it’s costing NOK 1 billion. She therefore thinks that NOK 3 billion to 6 billion for a new headquarters “is a good estimate.”
Around 2,000 government workers continue to work from make-shift offices around Oslo, and also from their homes.
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