Just as plans for speed cameras seemed to be going nowhere, an official meeting last week gave the go ahead for the tender process to begin within the next few months.
The whole process has been long and protracted, but the big issue in the last couple of years was funding. Many MP’s were concerned that the government would end up having to pick up the check for installing the system.
But Finance Minister Harris Georgiades has come up with a way to avoid making a dent on the state budget. Basically the private company would fund the whole project and get reimbursed by the state from revenue coming from speed camera fines.
The government will need to review all the terms and conditions before the tender is opened. It is estimated that the process will take three months, so interested companies would need to submit their bid possibly sometime in the summer.
It is not known when drivers will see speed cameras around the island, about 90 in fixed locations and 25 mobile operated, but it is expected that a pilot programme will take place sometime next year. Possible delays could then only come from appeals, if other bidders file a complaint over the selection process.
The system has been int h works for a decade but several legal and other challenghes, including politics, got in the way of moving forward.
Camera failures of the past
The only two cameras operating today are in Nicosia, on Grivas Dhighenis Avenue, which have been running since summer 2014. But initial hopes of curbing racing matches along the road had turned into a full-blown operation of fining average drivers going to work and home, sometimes taking months to be notified of a possible violation.
As a result, many people who received fines complained to police for not acting in a timely manner, as in some cases drivers had accumulated enough penalties to lose their licenses in just a few short months without ever knowing about the first violation.
Another problem was the speed limit on Grivas Digenis, which was only 50 kilometres per hour. Following public outcry, it was raised to 65.
Police keeping distance
Another issue has been the reluctance on the part of police to be involved in the process of issuing fines. But legislation does not allow any private company to issue speeding tickets, so the new system in place will require oversight by police.
Essentially, a police officer would need to sign off before a speeding ticket is issued to a driver.
The company will hire lawyers, who are registered with the Cyprus Bar Association, in order to go after offenders who do not pay their fines. If speed violators do not pay the fine by a brief deadline, then the lawyer will file a case with the courts.