Iceland Mag

19 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Politics

Government yields to locals who had blocked Ring Road in E. Iceland, to demand road funding

By Staff

  • Angry locals Farmers in Berufjörður fjord in East Iceland had blocked the Ring Road through the fjord on two occasions to force the government to live up to its promises of repairing the road in the fjord. Photo/Ólafur Björnsson.

Locals in Berufjörður fjord in East Iceland have won their battle over added funds to road repair. Last week the government announced that it would approve an additional 300 million ISK (2.7 million USD/2.5 million EUR) in funding to repair and pave the road through Berufjörður.

Democracy works
"We are ecstatic," Berglind Häsler, one of the leaders of the protests told the local news site Vísir. "I think it's great that they listened to the protesters who came from all around the country, and responded. It shows that democracy works."

However, she added that they would wait with any official celebrations until they could actually see road construction equipment arrive in the fjord. 

Broken promises

meeting.jpg

Local council meeting The town council of nearby town Djúpivogur held one of its meetings on a single lane bridge in Berufjörður, thus blocking the ring road. Photo/Vísir

In the lead-up to the October 2016 elections the government, which was at that time made up of  the center-right Progress Party and the Conservative Independence Party, had promised and approved a massive 10 billion ISK (91 million USD/84 million EUR) transportation infrastructure package, aimed at repairing and paving roads around Iceland, including the Ring Road in Berufjörður. After the elections the new government, led by the Independence party, scrapped the infrastructure plan completely.

The unpaved road is in desperate need for repairs, as deep potholes have turned the road into a dangerous obstacle course, locals argue. 

Blocking the road works
Earlier this month the local residents blocked the road on two occasions to pressure the government to live up to its previous promise. On Friday the government announced it would roll back some of the Draconian cuts to the investment plan, pledging funds to repair several projects. The local news site Vísir reports that among these are the paving of Berufjörður and a new bridge over Hornafjarðarfljót river in South East Iceland. Locals had also protested the decision not to build a new bridge by blocking the bridge.

Another project which will now be funded is a road to Dettifoss waterfall in North East Iceland. The road leading to one of Iceland's most beautiful waterfalls is under serious disrepair, causing the waterfall to be inaccessible to regular traffic for much of the year . 

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