TWO TRAFFIC cameras placed on Grivas Dhigenis Avenue in Nicosia last weekend recorded 2,000 traffic violations. Another thousand violations were recorded on Monday. The cameras covered a stretch of road that was about a kilometre long but is regularly used as a racing strip by young drivers, usually after midnight.
For years, residents of the areas north and south of the road had been urging Engomi municipality to do something about the racers who were causing very high decibel noise pollution when people were trying to sleep. They had suggested the placing of speed bumps and if that was not possible a permanent police presence on the road, but to no avail.
The ideal solution would have been installing speed cameras, instead of inconveniencing all road users with the speed bumps.
But the authorities have been unsuccessfully trying to organise the introduction of traffic cameras since 2006.
Cameras were introduced in that year but within a few months were deactivated because of supposed problems in their operation. This led to litigation between the government and the company that installed the cameras.
Since then, there have been several abortive tenders’ procedures for installing cameras. Astonishingly, the state services were unable to put together a procedure that was not challenged and, eventually, declared null and void by the Tenders Review Board. The level of incompetence defied belief. But there was also a sneaking suspicion that the politicians were not too keen on traffic cameras as they were deeply unpopular and therefore did not pursue the matter very vigorously.
When the first camera bill was taken to the House for approval deputies raised all type of objections, the most imaginative being that a married person could be photographed in a car with someone they were having an illicit affair with.
The traffic violations recorded by the two cameras last weekend underlined the need for their use on our roads, because far too many drivers ignore the traffic laws when deterrent of fines and penalty points on their licence does not exist. The current government seems intent on introducing the cameras, but the state will not be involved in the procurement of the equipment or running the system. The whole operation would be outsourced, with a private company being responsible for installing the equipment and running it. As payment, it would either receive a monthly fee or a percentage of the fines collected.
This is a sensible approach as it would cost the taxpayer nothing. However, it remains to be seen how many tenders procedures there would be before the contract is finally awarded to a company.