Traffic camera operator warned over fines backlog

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Cyprus’ traffic camera network is under the spotlight after the US operating company received a warning from the government for failing to process fines with a backlog of 15,000 still pending.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos confirmed the news following a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades to try and untangle the growing knot as the traffic camera system has not gone beyond its pilot phase.

President Anastasiades called all stakeholders in the newly introduced traffic camera network, including Attorney General George Savvides and the Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou.

Karousos told reporters Wednesday that the US company handling the cameras will receive a warning from the government that it must fulfil its agreed obligations.

Cyprus’ newly introduced traffic camera operators have been bogged down with thousands of fines while offenders complain of being slapped with excessive penalties.

Earlier this month, authorities recalled 11,000 fines after admitting that cameras did not produce clear photos to identify offending vehicles.

The transport minister said the 11,000 fines concern test photos and violations made by ambulances, other service vehicles, scooters, and bikes.

The pilot phase began in October 2021 with four fixed and four mobile cameras active, but motorists were given a three-month grace period to adjust to the system without getting fined.

Recorded violations total 62,752, of which 47,192 have either been sent out or will be issued in the next five days.

About 38,000 have been sent out, with the remaining 9,200 to be issued within a week.

However, that still leaves a considerable chunk of 15,000 fines which must be processed.

Put on ice

Karousos said the government is frustrated with the operators, as delays in sending out fines have meant that plans for moving to the next stage for another 36 cameras had to be put on ice.

He said further meetings between the transport and justice ministries and the company would hopefully resolve issues preventing the smooth issuance of the fines.

“I hope that all the issues will be resolved by the end of the month. If they are not sorted by then, we will not be able to proceed with the first phase.”

A decision will be made by the end of the month as to whether the system can finally move out of its pilot phase.

Phileleftheros daily said the company managing the cameras had not received any payments due to the ongoing issues.

The system’s operators, Conduent State & Local Solutions, had committed to sending out all fines by the end of May to launch the second phase of the network in June.

There are currently four fixed and four mobile cameras while it is expected that gradually 90 fixed and 20 mobile ones will be introduced over three years.

The four fixed cameras are at the busy Nicosia junction of Grivas Digheni and Demosthenis Severis Avenues.

Once the €34 mln system is fully operational, there will be 90 fixed units in 30 locations and 20 mobile cameras, which police will determine their place of operation.

Traffic cameras were first introduced 14 years ago, but technical and legal issues over the ownership of the platform and collection of fines forced the government to switch them off.

As an EU member, Cyprus has adopted the European target of a 50% reduction in road fatalities and a 50% reduction in serious injuries by 2030.

Cyprus has seen 21 people lose their lives in 19 accidents, compared to 14 deaths from 13 road accidents in the same period last year.