Opinion

Opinion: Skip any trip to northern Faroe Islands if one lane small and dark tunnels is not something for you

If you are about to visit the Faroe Islands, be informed that you are advised to skip any trip to the northern islands, if one lane small and dark tunnels is not something for you.

These tunnels are connected to the northern part of the island of Borðoy where you find the villages Árnafjøður, Depil, Norð Toftir, Norðdepil and Múla.

Borðoy is then connected by bridge to Viðoy, where you find the villages Hvannasund and Viðareiði. From Hvannasund you can get by boat to the isolated islands of Fugloy and Svínoy.

There are two tunnels, the first(1690m) connects Árnafjørð to Klaksvík and the latter(2120m) connects Árnafjørð to the rest of the island of Viðoy.

Around 1000 people live in these areas and there is also significant salmon farming industry in the area due to high performance fjords. An estimated export value for this area is around 900 million DKK per year. One would think that this should be a sign of a development area, but the sad story is that the Faroe Islands government performs transfer pricing to ensure that a maximum value is dropped in the Torshavn area to use on various projects politicians might care to think about.

Other than industry infrastructure and personal income tax to the communes, there is little evidence that this area is an significant driver in the currently strong Faroese economy. It’s a well established fact that if you are not living in the Torshavn area, you are discriminated and neglected for basic infrastructure(such as roads) and services.

Finished in 1967, these 51 years old tunnels are not the safest tunnels on earth, but a guarantee collective government neglect should keep them disintegrate until an horrific accident will occur.

Calls to construct new tunnels began as early as in 1984. Since 1999 the tunnel project has been first on the priority list for the Landsverk, who administers all roads in Faroe Islands. It has been confirmed that these tunnels are high priority since it has the highest traffic load and accidents per traffic of all similar tunnel projects in the Faroe Islands.

But is has been a bitter experience of neglect and ignorance.

It has been nearly 20 years since this “priority list” was first set up. But then, what happens? Nine tunnels have been constructed or are currently under construction, eight of them not featuring on the initial list.

In an desperate attempt to fund new tunnels, the communes have proposed to combine a loan with the pay road tunnel “Norðoyartunnulin” such that construction can start right away. But the current government has rejected any such idea and bluntly put out that there will be no new tunnels under their watch. Bitterness is reaching unprecedented level, since this minority government includes two politicians elected mainly by votes from this area.

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