Sunday, January 16

This village has been without coverage since Christmas Eve – must drive several minutes to call the emergency number

Since the night before Christmas Eve, 150 inhabitants in the fishing village Sørvær on Sørøya in Hasvik municipality in Finnmark have been completely without communication opportunities with the outside world.

An error at the base station that gives the fishing village both internet, TV and telephone coverage means that it is not possible to call or from Sørvær.

– SAD: Hasvik mayor Eva Husby. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen

Should an emergency occur, residents must drive between three and four minutes to be able to call the emergency number.

– It is sad that it happens in the middle of Christmas, but the error was tried to be corrected on Christmas Eve, but then bad weather made it impossible to do anything, says mayor of Hasvik, Eva D. Husby, to TV 2.

Ask people to seek out the lifeboat in an emergency

She emphasizes that the lifeboat is at the quay at Sørvær, and that the inhabitants can seek it out in the event of an emergency, so that they can use their communication system to notify the emergency services.

– If there is a crisis situation, you can seek it out. The roads are open, so it is possible to get around, and the weather is nice right now. The municipality has therefore not considered the situation so serious that we have set crisis staff, says Husby.

At the same time, the mayor apologizes for the situation to the affected population.

– It is very unfortunate for everyone who should call to and from their loved ones at Christmas. It was a big frustration, I know that. Because I know that some have called people there without getting an answer. I have talked to a lot in Sørvær and for them it was the worst thing that you do not get hold of people.

– Unacceptable

Parliamentary politician and county leader for the Finnmark Center Party, Geir Adelsten Iversen, believes it is untenable that the small village has to wait so long to get the coverage back.

RESPONDS: Geir Adelsten Iversen, parliamentary representative for Sp.  Photo: Berit Roald

RESPONDS: Geir Adelsten Iversen, parliamentary representative for Sp. Photo: Berit Roald

– It is completely unacceptable. You can do without the Internet, but you have to have a telephone. There may be a fire, or something may get sick, and without any kind of connection you have to go a long way to get it. It is not durable.

On Christmas Eve, he even took the trip to Sørvær to talk to some of those who were affected.

– They were desperate. What they had was radio, but they probably experience that no one really cares about their challenges.

The parliamentary representative, who himself lives a few miles away, but in the same municipality, believes it is urgent to correct the error.

– It’s good enough that the lifeboat is there. But it may have to go on assignments, it can not be the case that people should rely on having to hop in a car to get help.

He is critical of the fact that the error has not already been corrected.

– It’s in the district, and far away. And you have to spend some resources to get there, but it should not be an obstacle. If you have a license to deliver the services, you just have to fix it.

The fault lies on the mountain

Hammerfest Energi Bredbånd is responsible for correcting the error. Acting general manager, Cato Berntsen, tells TV 2 that they sent out fitters by plane at 09.30 on Christmas Eve. The flight was supposed to take 20 minutes, but that the plane had problems landing due to the weather conditions .. Only at 9.30 pm did the plane arrive.

– That in itself made things take time. And then it turned out that the fault was in a cable up on the mountain, and there it was not justifiable to get up due to the weather conditions. The error correction was therefore interrupted and the fitters were sent home again, he says.

He further points out that there are problems with getting the fitters out to the island again due to challenges in getting transport and the logistics of getting the fitters back again. The fact that it is a holiday makes this extra difficult, according to Berntsen.

– With the help of the harbor guard of the municipality, we have now arranged it so that the fitters are transported to Sørvær at 09.30 on Christmas Day. We hope to get it fixed during the evening then, but it is difficult to say until we have seen the extent of the damage.

Sorry to the residents

Berntsen apologizes to those affected.

– We are aware that this is challenging for those who live there, and aware that it is difficult for them in terms of emergency preparedness. We do everything we can to correct the mistake as soon as possible, he says.

The fiber cable to Hammerfest Energi Bredbånd is used to provide Sørvær’s residents with TV and internet, while Telenor has parts of it at its disposal to ensure that the residents have telephone coverage.

Telenor tells TV 2 that they have a close dialogue with Hammerfest Energi about the status of the error correction.

– This is a shame, but no disaster. The roads are plowed and it is around three minutes to drive if you have to call, says coverage director at Telenor, Bjørn Amundsen, to TV 2.

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