The government has come up with a new model – the latest in a series – for introducing speed cameras, where the company to be awarded the contract for buying, installing and operating them would be paid a flat monthly fee from the proceeds of tickets issued to motorists.
The finance ministry and the ministry of justice and public order are set to draft a joint letter requesting approval of the funds necessary for the traffic cameras system, Transport Minister Marios Demetriades confirmed to the Cyprus Mail.
According to the new timetable, tenders will be put out sometime in 2017, but given the typically slow procedures and red tape, it would take a further one to two years to have the system up and running.
The new model, Demetriades said, will not be a public-private partnership – an idea previously toyed with. Rather, the company will put up the money for installing, operating and maintaining the cameras.
The private company will subsequently recoup its investment from the state, which will issue and collect the fines, and then use part of the proceeds to pay the company.
The contract with the operator would span seven to eight years, the minister said.
The plan is to install 110 cameras – 90 stationary and 20 mobile – across Cyprus.
Speed cameras were introduced in 2007 as a test run but were summarily scrapped after the system displayed serious operational issues – not least of which was the fact that it could be tampered with. The operator also reported facing serious problems in the delivery of speeding tickets.
Successive governments have been unable to bring back speed cameras.
By 2020, Cyprus needs to have brought its annual road casualties to 30 – from nearly 60 last year – according to the national action plan. Police estimate that the operation of speed cameras accounts for a reduction in road accidents of up to 30 per cent.
A recently released study by the University of Cyprus showed the number of road collisions and deaths in Cyprus has decreased over time but the number of fatalities as a proportion of accidents has increased from 12.8 per 1,000 accidents in 1982, to 39 fatalities per 1,000 accidents in 2014. Cyprus currently ranks 12th among the EU28 in terms of road deaths.
The main causes of road accidents in the 2011-2015 period were drink driving (27 per cent), reckless driving (23 per cent), driving on the wrong side (14 per cent), speeding (13 per cent), and driving under the influence of drugs (8.5 per cent). Over 8 per cent of those killed were pedestrians.
Beyond safety, speed cameras will prove a financial boon for the cash-strapped state.
Currently, there are two speed cameras on Griva Digenis avenue in Nicosia. Installed on a trial basis in 2014, the two cameras have generated proceeds of some €2 million a year, according to daily Phileleftheros.