Floods show lack of accountability

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Carol KingEXPATRIATE MUSINGS: Spring floods rolled through large parts of Norway again last week, destroying homes that in some areas had just been rebuilt after flooding two years ago. That’s prompted reaction from insurance companies, some politicians and Carol King, a recent immigrant from the US who can’t understand why this is happening. Debate may arise once this year’s rubble is cleared but it also may fall victim to the power of district politics that sanctions the diversion of funds to outlying areas, not necessarily the areas where they’re most needed.

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I am an American, soon to be Norwegian.  I look at the news in America and Oklahoma, where large tornadoes are killing people, and think “my gosh, why, after all these years, did they not require storm shelters and cellars to escape the wrath that comes every year or every other year in that area!? Why not even for schools?” It’s all about money and those who don’t care about those being killed or about preventing deaths. They just put money elsewhere into shopping centers and projects that make more money for others without accounting for the loss or lives or disruption of daily life.

Then you look at Norway. Major highways have been shut down because of heavy rain and snowmelt. Major train lines were disrupted because of the rain and snowmelt, which both come every year or two, in known areas. Why is the richest country in the world suffering these delays and shutdowns? Why isn’t money directed towards flood control projects in these areas, or to better roadways or railways?

Media coverage of the recent flooding in Norway has been extensive, including Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK)'s reports from here in Østerdalen and several other locations round the country. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Media coverage of the recent flooding in Norway has been extensive, including Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK)’s reports from here in Østerdalen and several other locations round the country. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Because Norway wants to spend millions of dollars on pet projects to build, for example, a bridge to a small island that only 20 people occupy! That is wrong on so many counts! But nobody in Norway wants to talk about it or be held accountable for it. There are road projects all over Norway sucking in lots of money, most are over-budget and behind schedule but there are rarely if ever any penalties or fines, no accountability. And there is little focus by government on suggesting or directing projects to solve real-life issues for Norwegians like those in areas prone to flooding or real rail lines being down for many, many Norwegians who need them to go to work.

This is sad. Norway has plenty of money that could be used for infrastructure repairs and maintenance, but it is not spending it wisely or at all, and with little accountability to Norwegians.

In Oklahoma, they’re not doing very well in providing shelter and safety despite knowing for many, many years that they’re prone to terrible tornadoes. But the US is not smart with money or politics, and that’s also been known for many, many  years!

Norway is supposed to be smarter and much more savvy in finance … so why won’t Norway hold road and building crews accountable? Why won’t they fine people who don’t adhere to contracts on road construction to hold them accountable?  Why does Norway tolerate building projects for roads and bridges that only serve a relative few persons (in outlying areas), when a new bridge or road or improvement is needed in an area where thousands of drivers and train commuters live?

The Transportation Ministers and those above them need to stop the spending to fund bridges to small islands and projects to benefit a few and concentrate on what’s needed for many more. The roads and train tracks flood in the very same places year after year after year. It’s known where the problems are, but officials choose to ignore them and put off repairs and corrections. This must stop!

Why doesn’t Norway adopt a FIX 500 PLAN?  Identify 500 priority places or items to fix, and fix them within one year!  All 500 should benefit the majority of people and places. All 500 should be about fixing a major road problem or train track problem. Maybe after this type of focus and accountability, the regular people administering these types of things year round will understand that they can’t mess up any more and that people will hold them actually accountable for their jobs. Look at the E18 between Sandefjord and Oslo: What a mess, lots of excuses and little accountability. What does that do to inspire honest and good work? Nothing!

Special for Views and News from Norway/Carol King

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