In May, Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Ola Borten Moe, announced that the costs for the construction of a new Viking Age Museum in Oslo must be reduced by NOK 1 billion.
“Based on the fact that the Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property (Statsbygg) has warned that the existing plans cannot be completed within the adopted financial framework, the Ministry of Education and Research requests that the project be reviewed with a view to significantly reducing costs,” a letter from the Ministry sent to Statsbygg and the University in Oslo (UiO) in May stated, The Viking Herald reported at the time.
Furthermore, Borten Moe told news bureau NTB that it is both unfortunate and unacceptable that the budget has been breached before the construction of the museum even started.
“We’re pulling the emergency brake a bit and telling Statsbygg and UiO that they must work together in the coming month with a view to coming back to us with a project that is within the approved cost framework.”
Massive budget breach
“The days when the (Norwegian) state would pick up the bill for construction projects that go far beyond the cost framework is over,” Minister Borten Moe added.
On February 8, Director of the University of Oslo Arne Benjaminsen informed the university board at the UiO that the new Viking Age Museum could be up to NOK 1 billion more expensive than budgeted. Initially, the museum had a cost framework of around NOK 2.14 billion. The new estimate shows that it could cost up to NOK 3.14 billion.
“The messages we have received from Statsbygg show that the reasons for the budget breach include the complexity of the project, the complexity of the building, the corona situation, and the increase in the market price of factors needed to finalize this building,” Benjaminsen told the board.
The Minister, for his part, believes that it should be possible to have a good Viking Age Museum within the framework of NOK 2.14 billion.
“My experience is that when people work well together, you can achieve a lot,” Borten Moe said.
Hermstad: Unfortunate development
Norway Today reached out to Arild Hermstad, the deputy head of the Green Party (MDG), as the party has been openly critical of the budget cut to the museum project.
NT: How does the Green Party comment on the planned cut of NOK 1 billion to the Viking Age Museum project?
AH: We see the missing funding as very unfortunate. The ships are degrading day by day, and the people working with the ships are clear that they need appropriate funding quickly in order to secure the ships for future generations.
NT: Minister Borten Moe said that there is a possibility that the entire project would need to start from scratch. Your comments?
AH: Sadly, this is just one of many unwise decisions from Borten Moe. The project needs to be cost-effective but starting everything from scratch only delays getting the ships in a condition where they will stop degrading.
NT: Do you think the decision could harm the invaluable Viking ships stored in the museum?
AH: Definitely, and that is what the people working on the project also have told us in the Green Party when we have talked to them. This can be a fatal decision for our cultural heritage.
NT: Does the Green Party have a proposal on how to safeguard the new museum project – and the ships? If so, what do you propose as an alternative to the government’s proposal?
AH: We’re proposing giving the necessary funding, starting with NOK 250 million more than the government gives in our alternative for the revised budget. We need to do this as cost-effective as possible, but we are willing to allocate what is needed for the forthcoming years.
Note: Statsbygg had originally planned for the museum to be completed by 2026.
Robin-Ivan Capar is a contributor and editor at Norway Today.
Source : #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews
Do you have a news tip for Norway Today? We want to hear it. Get in touch at [email protected]