The addition of global positioning system (GPS) trackers on some 2.500 government-owned vehicles, which is already underway, is expected to be completed by mid-2017, according to Electromechanical Services Department chief Loucas Timotheou.
Speaking to daily Politis, Timotheou said savings of 10 to 15 per cent on maintenance and fuel are expected with the new system, as the fleet of government cars will be better assessed in terms of performance, while drivers’ treatment of the cars will also be subject to scrutiny, since careless or negligent driving incurs higher maintenance cost.
All government-owned cars will be fixed with the tracking devices, with the exception of police and National Guard vehicles, as well as the cars used by state officials.
Timotheou said civil servants driving the cars have already voiced alarm at their every move being monitored, fearing that their behaviour while driving, from smoking to carrying unauthorised passengers, might be penalised.
However, he added, such reaction is to be expected, but there is no intention of monitoring drivers personally.
“There will be no visual contact with the cars,” Timotheou said.
“The signal emitted from the GPS device will be monitored, as will driving behaviour, with a view to reducing unnecessary damage to the car and managing the fleet better.”
He added that the monitoring findings will make, for example, spotting fuel-guzzling cars easier, which will then be replaced, while aspects of driving behaviour to be assessed will include such things as sharp acceleration and clutch overuse.
Department heads will need to be aware of who is driving each car at all times, and monitor their itinerary, Timotheou said.
The government bought the car-tracking services from SSM Computer Systems Ltd for seven years at a cost of approximately €2 million.
By EMS calculations, the cost will have been offset by annual savings on fuel and maintenance of at least €300.000.
The average total cost to the government for fuel and maintenance in recent years was about €3.5 to €4 million.
The project is the result of a 2013 study by the state’s Internal Audit Service, which had identified the lack of a computerised monitoring system.
At the time, the study found that cost savings of only five per cent in fuel and maintenance on 5.700 vehicles – it included police and National Guard vehicles – would have incurred savings of €850.000 on the €17 million the state spent on fuelling and servicing its cars in 2012.