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Our View: Minister might be over-optimistic about having traffic cams next year

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos

The introduction of traffic cameras will be put off until next year, even though it had been scheduled for the last quarter of 2020. Then again, the state has been unsuccessfully trying for the last 10 years to introduce these cameras so a few more months’ delay should not be regarded an issue in the broader theme of schemes.

The question, however, is whether the delay will only be for a few months as the Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos suggested on Wednesday or would this eventually be extended by years, which was the case in the past. Why should we expect things to be any different this time considering the number of aborted tenders over the last decade?

Karousos explained the delay was caused by an appeal filed to the Tenders Review Authority by one of the bidders that objected to a provision included in the specifications by the state, the contracting authority. According to regulations and legislation this would have to be cleared by the authority before the procedure could go ahead, said Karousos, who expected the matter to be settled by the end of March.

We do not know the intricacies of state tenders’ procedures, but it seems completely irrational for a potential bidder to complain about specifications. If a private business was buying a product and changed the specs, because it decided it wanted a better model, would any of the bidders have the legal right to appeal? Of course not, so why do bidders have different rights when the contracting party is the state?

In the case of the speed cameras, the state had initially wanted the cameras to photograph only the back of the cars, but subsequently decided it want the front also to be photographed so people speaking on their phone or not wearing a seat-belt would also be fined. We can only guess the bidder who has appealed has cameras that can only take photos of the back of the car.

On the other hand, someone could claim the specs were changed because this might have favoured a particular bidder; it would not be first time this happened. The funny thing is that the appeal has been filed before the state had even decided which company would be awarded the contract. What is the likelihood there would not be an appeal, once a decision is taken, by one of the losing bidders, delaying the introduction of the traffic cameras by another year or two?

Under the circumstances, Karousos may have been a bit over-optimistic in forecasting the introduction of the cameras by next year.

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