By Constantinos Psillides
A TOTAL of 110 traffic cameras – 90 stationary and 20 mobile – will be up and running by the end of the year, said House Transport Committee chairman Antonis Antoniou, stressing that all necessary measures have been taken to ensure the offender’s privacy is protected.
Antoniou said that the cameras will only take pictures of the back of the car, while the MPs decided not to allow for the private contractor that will run the camera network to be paid according to the number of tickets issued, as was the Communication and Works ministry’s original plan. The ministry’s goal was to minimise the cost to the taxpayer, allowing for the money collected from fining offenders to cover the cost. Main opposition party AKEL had rejected the idea from the start.
“AKEL is of course in favour of any system that aims to reduce road accidents but not if that system turns into a money collecting measure,” said MP Andreas Fakontis, adding that the committee decided that the system will be set up with the aid of a private contractor and that the contractor will be paid by the state in monthly instalments.
According to the parliamentary committee chairman, 15 companies have thus far expressed interest in setting up the camera network.
Antoniou noted that the MPs asked the competent authorities to look into speed limits as well as notifying the offenders on time.
Raising the speed limit by 15kph and building two speed bumps has largely resolved the problem along Griva Digeni avenue in Nicosia, where two cameras were set up in June last year. The cameras recorded 800 traffic violations per day, sparking the anger of residents. Raising the speed limit reduced the violations to an average of 50 per day. The speed bumps were included in the original plan but were built four months after the cameras were installed.
Issues stemming from the operation of the cameras at Griva Digeni avenue were also discussed at the committee meeting. According to data submitted to the MPs, the cameras have recorded 51,455 traffic violations so far.
AKEL MP Irene Charalambidou accused Justice ministry officials of “handling the issue in an amateurish manner that resulted in a mess.”
Justice ministry permanent secretary Andreas Mylonas responded that no mess was ever created.
“If there was ever such a mess, it had only to do with people who like to break the law. The state, coordinating with the local authority, decided that illegal racing on that stretch of the road needed to be dealt with. We started with the cameras and then added the bumps. The fact that they were installed some months apart doesn’t change the fact that illegal racing on Griva Digeni avenue has been largely dealt with,” said Mylonas.