Cyprus Mail

Parliament criminalises traffic sign vandalism

road sign, vandalism, transport committee, graffiti, traffic sign
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Parliament on Thursday passed a law making it a criminal offence to damage, deface or in any way alter a traffic sign.

The legislation, amending the Road Safety Law, provides for sentences of either up to six months prison, or a fine up to €1,700, or both running concurrently.

It prohibits writing, engraving, or drawing on traffic signs using any means – such as spray paint – and also the destruction, removal or defacement of such signs.

The bill, tabled by Disy MP Nikos Georgiou, passed by a unanimous vote.

In his remarks before the vote, Georgiou spoke of the common phenomenon of vandalism against traffic signs by “mindless individuals.” He said the state must send a clear signal of deterrence.

Such behaviour, he added, inconveniences the public but can sometimes also lead to dangerous situations for drivers.

According to Akel MP Costas Costa, every year the state spends between €200,000 to €300,000 on restoring or repairing traffic signs.

Diko’s Christos Orfanides said the Road Transport Department is now replacing defaced traffic signs with new ones coated with a special foil that allows for vandals’ inscriptions to be rubbed out with a sponge.

Alterations to signs not only confuse motorists as to the applicable speed limit, but also gives wrong information about directions. And the situation makes Cyprus looks bad to tourists, said Orfanides.

For his part, Diko deputy Zacharias Koulias said the state of traffic signs across the island is “embarrassing”. Many signs need to be replaced altogether, as the colours have faded away and they are illegible.

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