By Constantinos Psillides
The much-debated traffic cameras network that was supposed to be up and running by the end of February 2015 is still to enter the tenders phase, according to the head of the electromechanical services Loucas Timotheou, who attributed the delay to procedural issues.
Timotheou told the Cyprus Mail that since the project is a public–private partnership (PPP) there was a lot of complex paperwork.
“These types of agreements are ruled by all the necessary procedures and safeguards that are essential for ensuring transparency and the best possible outcome for the state. Thus they need to be followed to the letter,” said Timotheou, adding that once the procedure was completed things would move quickly.
“We sat down with all the stakeholders, received their comments and suggestions and came up with a plan that is beneficial for everyone involved. Once we get the ball rolling everything will happen very fast,” he said.
Timotheou refrained from giving a timeframe, reiterating that all proper procedures must be followed.
A total of 110 cameras (90 stationary and 20 mobile) will be set up all over the island, in an attempt to curb speeding and reduce road accidents.
While the state’s initial plan to entice private companies was to allow payment based on the number of speeding tickets produced, Timotheou said the approach was problematic. “We received many complaints saying that we should not incentivise private companies that way, because it would push them towards issuing as many tickets as possible. We heard those concerns, deliberated with the stakeholders and came up with what we believe is the best solution,” he said.
Timotheou explained that the private company would now be paid a fee each month based on the agreement, and provided that sticks to two conditions. One is to have every single camera in the network up and running and secondly that the cameras provide the best possible picture of the offender.
“We wanted to make sure that the company has reason to buy the best traffic cameras available. If a camera breaks down, they will be given 24 hours to repair it or be fined by the hour. The total amount will be deducted from the monthly fee paid to the company,” said Timotheou. The state’s goal was not to fine people but to reduce traffic accidents, he said.
“This solution will also help with the public’s perception of the company. Since they won’t receive money based on their quota of fines, people will have no reason to believe that there ulterior motives behind this agreement,” he added.
Asked what would happen if the cameras were vandalised, Timotheou said this scenario had also been taken into consideration. “Again, this agreement will force the supplier to opt for the best equipment in the market. There are traffic cameras with anti-vandal equipment, and it’s in the company’s best interest.”
Installing traffic cameras dates back almost a decade. After heated debates, mainly focused on personal data protection, a network was set up in 2006 but was quickly discarded. The cameras had numerous problems, including failure to store photographs, and extensive bureaucracy that in some cases resulted in fining a person twice for the same violation while letting others go unpunished.
The cameras were taken down in 2007 and in 2008 it was announced that new cameras would be put up by 2010. In 2011 the Tender Review Board challenged the specifications outlined in the process and cancelled the government’s plan for the fifth time. Failing to find a way of effectively setting up the system, the government decided to outsource the venture to a private firm.