Construction Equipment Global
Operator Martin Oja by his Volvo EC220EL in Kiruna.
Operator Martin Oja by his Volvo EC220EL in Kiruna.

Moving the city of Kiruna

Meet the operator

Moving the city of Kiruna

Machine operator Martin Oja has been working on the city transformation project in Kiruna for almost ten years. He’s looking forward to the day the city is completed.

At the edge of what is to become Kiruna’s new centre, Martin Oja is sat at the controls of a crawler excavator. After the summer holidays, he began working on this stage of the city centre project. “I’ll be here all winter, and then next year we’ll start on a new stage. So I’m going to be here for a while. There’s plenty to do,” he explains.

Volvo operator Martin Oja in Kiruna.
Volvo operator Martin Oja in Kiruna.

The area where the new city centre is to be is partially an old marsh. This has meant that Martin and his colleagues have dug up huge amounts of wet mud over the last few months. When Spirit visits, the piping work is about to start in earnest.

“What we’re doing now is making preparations for the infrastructure. Water, drains and roads,” he says. The tall “pillars” scattered around the area are actually not pillars, but future manholes. This means that when the piping work is complete, seven metres of gravel will have to be filled in to reach the intended ground level. The contractors will use waste gravel from the mine to fill in the area.

“The gravel has a high ore content, making it quite heavy work for the machines,” Oja says.

Volvo EC220EL in Kiruna, operated by Martin Oja.
A Volvo EC220EL working in Kiruna, operated by Martin Oja.

For almost ten years he has been working on the social transformation underway in Kiruna. In addition to everything that needs to go up, there’s also a great deal that is to be torn down. As late as this summer, he was involved in the work to bring down Kiruna’s classic railway station.

The new City Hall towers above us, just a few hundred metres away from where his crawler excavator is stood. In the summer of 2018 the municipal leaders and civil servants will be moving in. Two years later the central part of the city centre will be finished.

“Standing here in the mud, looking around, it’s difficult to imagine that in a few years there will be a new city here,” says Martin, adding:

“I hope that I’ll still be working here when the houses and roads are completed and it really starts to take shape.” 

Moving the city of Kiruna

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