Göta Canal in dire need of restoration
Göta Canal, the over 600 kilometre man-made waterway stretching from Gothenburg in the west to Söderköping south of Stockholm in the east, will be restored over the next five years.
It is the biggest restoration project since the canal was built in the late 1800's and will cost approximately SEK 500 million.
"We have failed to maintain the canal properly for a long time so there is much to do. If we don't do anything now we will have to close the canal," Anders Donlau, Managing Director of the Göta Canal Company that manages the canal and the properties surrounding it, tells Swedish Radio News.
The canal was originally built as a trade route between the west and the east coast and as a way to modernise Sweden, but it soon became redundant with the arrival of railways shortly after the canal system was finished. These days, the narrow canal is a popular tourist attraction, trafficked mainly by pleasure boats and drawing somewhere around two million visitors each year.
The state will pay for some of the restoration, but the Göta Canal company, which is owned by the state, will have to find funding for most of it in other ways. Anders Donlau hopes to receive some funding from the EU and says that they may have to borrow money to be able to afford the project, but he says that it will be worth it.
"This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Sweden. It's a million krona industry that generates a lot of tax revenue," Donlau says.
The company has calculated that it is cheaper to restore the canal bit by bit instead of closing it altogether during the restoration process and estimates that the project will take up to five years to complete.