The embattled traffic camera system is to finally move up a gear and exit its extended pilot phase, as now another 20 stationary cameras are to be installed within six months, the transport ministry said on Tuesday.
The 20 cameras will be placed across six intersections while another 16 mobile cameras will also be brought online.
It marks a significant development for the transport ministry which received mockery and criticism for the rollout of the programme. The pilot phase, meant to only last for three months, saw just four stationary and four mobile cameras being introduced in October 2021.
Nine months later and the ministry announced that the first phase will be completed within the next six months.
They said that the additional cameras will be gradually installed throughout next half-year. The second phase is when it really ramps up: a further 66 stationary cameras will be rolled out.
But the road so far has been rocky, with back-and-forth claims and counterclaims of who is to blame for the delays. It culminated with President Nicos Anastasiades hosting a meeting in June of senior ministers and officials, after which the transport minister issued a stern warning to the company to sort the matter out.
Early on there were warnings that the sheer volume of the number of fines was overloading the company assigned to handle and issue the paperwork. From October 2021 until June 2022, it had recorded 90,000 violations, with some drivers not receiving their fines months after the infraction occurred.
It was soon reported that there were difficulties in the identifying drivers and cross-referencing their details across various government databases and linking them to the correct address. It is understood that a person’s name may have been stored differently across various government departments, while some listed addresses were wildly inaccurate or out of date.
There has also been flood of complaints from the public who are eventually receiving their fines. One source of tension is that many are being fined for simply touching the white line at the intersections, once the light has gone red, even if the vehicle has not crossed over.
Haris Evripidou of the traffic department explained that in such cases a fine of just €25 is issued instead of the €300 had the vehicle fully crossed the line at a red light.
Some members of the public have expressed concern and have questioned why such cases are being investigated and burdening the programme when instead the focus should be on graver incidents.
He was also asked why drivers who are fined and wish to contest the claim are not able to review footage of the case, to which Evripidou replied that the current legal framework does not permit it. Currently, drivers are only provided with a photograph depicting the alleged infraction, with Evripidou stating that for it to be otherwise the law must be changed.
It was initially hoped that the pilot phase would be a period for the public to become acquainted with the system and that subsequently the volume of fines would decrease substantially.
There are fears that if more cameras are to come online then the system would be further choked and bogged down.