After several years of construction work at the main square in Kristiansand, it was a solemn moment when the statue of King Haakon was lifted into place. The operation ended with a bang.
The lifting operation was carried out by a specially adapted lifting platform lowered around the granite block. Wedges were then placed adjacent to the statue. The wedges made sure that the block was not damaged and the applied pressure made it possible to lift the statue.
According to Project Manager for Veidekke, Jesper Magnussen, an error in a lifting arm caused the accident.
– When the block came in contact with the foundation, a slack and movement occurred. The royal statue was almost in place when it all went wrong, says Magnussen.
According to the subcontractor responsible for the operation, Vågen and Hansen, it is hard to tell exactly what went wrong.
– We were only millimetres away from completing the task. At the very last moment, the whole contraption lost grip. The statue jumped in the air and hit the king so that he toppled over.
The king remained hanging in the straps, limiting the damage, says Hansen.
– It turned out that the old bolts that anchored the statue to the block were in a bad state. Despite the fact that the statue was secured with extra straps, it therefore tipped over, says Jesper Magnussen.
Supposed to move home
The bronze king stands on a granite block on the square in Kristiansand and overlooks the cobbled area where schoolchildren wave their flags every 17th of May.
However, he has not been in his habitat since the autumn of 2015. Then he was moved to facilitate for extensive work both under and above ground. A large parking facility is built under the town square in Kristiansand.
According to Magnussen, the statue of King Haakon has suffered minor damage to the ankle. The statue is now shipped to a warehouse. He says Veidekke is already in the process of finding a suitable repairman to fix the damage.
– This was in many ways an anniversary for us. Therefore it was very sad that it turned out like this. But I have talked to the subcontractor and there is nothing to indicate that the procedures have not been followed. There was never danger to the public or crew, he says.
– Were the preparations inadequate?
– Such outcome is the worst imaginable to us, therefore we go through the lifting operation several times. Many assessments and measures are taken to ensure that it does not happen, but it happened despite all precautions, Hansen said.
Hansen says it is not yet clear when the king can return to his rightful place, but promises that it will take place with the utmost care.
– He will be treated gently, Hansen assures.
Source: nrk.no / Norway Today