The proposed road from Paphos to Polis, in its current form, is a financially unviable project and a waste of taxpayer money, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said, rejecting suggestions that the matter was not within his remit.
“Our service reiterates the position that construction of the project in question, in its current form, constitutes squandering of public money, on the basis of a decision that clashes with the acceptable and legally prescribed review and selection procedures,” Michaelides said in a statement issued on Thursday.
It followed the cabinet’s rejection of the audit service’s view that the proposed Paphos to Polis road was a waste of money in the current form.
“That is our view, which we have every right to express since auditing public spending falls under the hardest core of our constitutionally guaranteed powers,” the auditor said.
“We also express regret about the fact that, as we have been informed by the finance minister yesterday, during its September 13, 2017, session the cabinet judged our reports to be beyond our remit.”
It was noteworthy, according to the auditor, that during times when there was no legal framework guiding the selection and advancement of investment projects, the audit service was recommending reducing the cost within logical levels – 2005 to 2012 — without any suggestion from the government that it was not within its remit.
In his report, the auditor said the reason the project was not sustainable was the decision to effectively construct a motorway when it was not justified by the traffic data.
The annual average daily traffic in 2014 was 6,801 vehicles per day, with August of the same year recording the highest.
On August 15, a national holiday, 10,944 vehicles used the road, the report said. Ten days later officials counted 830 vehicles at 6pm, the highest hourly traffic. The average during the month was around 9,000 vehicles per day.
The current plan is for a two-lane road, which however, will have the geometrical characteristics of a motorway.
The public works department’s standards for a two-lane road provides for an average 13,000 vehicles per day whereas the respective standard for motorways is 41,000, the auditor said.
“This is part of a bigger plan providing that in the future, (not specified when) the complete project will be constructed at a cost of €260m (current prices) that will include a four-lane motorway,” the report said.
Taxpayers were currently looking at a cost of between €68m and €81.5m, depending on which version the state would go with.
The audit service had pointed out to the finance minister that building a two-lane road with the geometric characteristics of a motorway meant using parameters fit for the latter.
That, in turn, meant a higher cost of construction, especially in higher areas as was the case, and made the road less safe because it would encourage motorists to drive at higher speeds.
“Based on all the above, we expressed the view that the minister, exercising the powers granted to him by the framework law and acting in a lawful manner as he ought to, should reject the project without delay and ask the public works department to review the issue so that the project becomes financially viable.”
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
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RoSPA assesses older drivers for the ITV documentary-series 100 Year Old Driving School
RoSPA assessors will be supporting older drivers during an ITV documentary-series looking at why and how the elderly still get behind the wheel.
The three-part show, called 100 Year Old Driving School, will air on ITV tonight (Tuesday, September 12) and follows the lives of a group of British drivers, over the age of 90, who still enjoy driving on the roads.
They will be given assessments from some of the charity’s top examiners, providing hints, tips, encouragement and guidance on how they can improve their driving or whether it may be time to hang up their keys.
Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “Driving a car is an important part of personal, family and work life for millions of us, providing freedom and independence to get about as and when we need to.
“Experienced drivers are, in general, safer than those with less experience but as we get older, our health and fitness, often including our eyesight, physical condition and reaction times, begins to decline. Age-related conditions can also begin to affect our driving and can eventually mean that there is a point when an individual needs to give up driving. However, as this documentary will show, this point is different for everyone; there isn’t an age at which all drivers become unable to drive safely.
“Many older drivers recognise that their driving ability is changing and consequently change when and where they drive. Driving assessments, such as RoSPA’s Experienced Driver Assessment and refresher training courses can help older drivers.”
The documentary, produced by production company RDF Television, will also air on Tuesday, September 19 and 26.
For further information on older drivers, visit olderdrivers.org.uk
THE police have adamantly denied accusations from the public that drivers are being fined for offences they did not commit for the sake of meeting internal quotas, especially when conducting high-profile road safety campaigns.
In the space of one week last month, the Sunday Mail received complaints from several readers claiming they had been wrongly fined for traffic offences.
Two different men were fined in Germasogia, Limassol at two traffic lights close to each other for running a red light – charges they both deny.
One of them, Robert Michael, a 70-year-old retired British policeman who had worked in London, said he was absolutely perplexed by the fact he was fined when the light was very much green when he passed it.
“I braked as I approached the traffic lights just in case they would go amber but they were still green. I continued to drive on and a policeman pulled me over to say I had passed with a red light,” he told the Sunday Mail.
“I’m an ex policeman from London. I don’t break the law. If it was justified I certainly wouldn’t dispute it.”
Michael said he began disputing the case with the police officer on scene and when Michael told him he was willing to take the case to court, the officer allegedly responded with “you can try but we always win.”
Cases such as these are always very difficult to prove or dispute.
Unlike London, which is covered with cameras and CCTV, in Cyprus a court case would be the word of one man against that of an officer.
“In the UK I would have a shot at justice but not in this country,” Fields said.
“I had children in the car, so of course I was driving carefully.”
On the same day, a friend of Fields, Egis Rukviza also got stopped at a nearby set of traffic lights in Germasogia for what he was told at the scene was running a red light.
Rukviza has been living in Cyprus with his wife Neringa for the past seven years after they moved from Lithuania and says in all his time here he had never once been fined.
Due to Rukviza’s broken English, his wife spoke on his behalf to the Sunday Mail “my husband stopped at the traffic lights because it was red and there was another car in front of him. Then it became green and they drove on. Police didn’t stop the first car. It was an expensive one, so they didn’t bother, but they stopped my husband.
“I know my husband, he drives very carefully,” Neringa said.
According to their account, once pulled over, the police officer called on a colleague of his – who was sitting in the car – to write up the fine.
“He didn’t even see what happened. My husband kept insisting it was green,” she said.
Later that evening, the couple went to the police station to complain and ask for proof of the offence – they were told there were no CCTV cameras.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said the difficulty with such complaints is that there is hardly ever any evidence – unlike those that are caught speeding with the use of a radar – and it was the word of one person against another.
“We also have to keep in mind that the person being fined might be overreacting,” and perhaps falsely denying the charge, Angelides told the Sunday Mail.
Police’s campaigns are aimed to clamp down on bad drivers not an attempt to give out tickets left, right and centre, he added.
On August 29, in a one-day campaign, 259 people were booked in Limassol alone between 8am to 5pm.
Of those, 78 were booked running a red light while 82 were caught using a mobile phone while driving.
“I don’t mind these campaigns. I think they’re great. But you can’t fine innocent people as a source of income,” Michael said.
There are three courses of action available for people to follow when they feel they have been wronged – send a letter to the chief of police, take the case to court, or speak to the local traffic police supervisor.
If there is a case of bad police behaviour, then the public can also file a report to the independent authority for the investigation of allegations and complaints against the police.
Michael and Rukviza however tried – and were rebuffed twice – when they tried to speak to Limassol traffic police, they said.
After they discovered they had both been fined, they headed to the Germasogia police station asking to speak to the traffic supervisor. They were advised to go the next day.
The following day however the supervisor was apparently still unavailable to meet them and sent out the police officer that fined Rukviza.
Upon closer inspection Rukviza also realised that although his supposed offence was running a red light, the ticket said he had been driving while on his phone – an offence he also denies.
“The officer, when he came out to meet my husband and Mr Robert (Michael) at the station, then insisted they had driven past a red light,” Neringa said.
“So they asked him why the ticket was for driving while using a mobile phone and he said ‘you committed both but I fined you only for one’.”
Rukviza was considering filing a report over the police officer but said “they all work together. I don’t think a complaint would even make it to the policeman’s file. I doubt they even have a file.”
Angelides told the Sunday Mail that under no circumstances do police have quotas of fines that have to be filled.
“On the contrary, officers are told that if they’re not sure about an offence – say someone was caught for speeding but they weren’t sure if the person was wearing a seatbelt – then to ignore the seatbelt offence,” he said.
“Over the years, the behaviour of the police force has improved as well and the way they respond to the public. Many times the officers are on the receiving end of abuse from people that are upset about being fined who start shouting and swearing.”
All of which is no doubt true, but is of little solace to Michael and Rukviza. Both men paid their €85 fines, but feel it is unjust, as they insist they didn’t commit the offences.
“If I’d done it, of course I’d pay,” Fields said.
And at a first look the numbers are indeed impressive. According to information by the authority, the six cars save 3,096 litres of liquid fuel per year, and emissions drop by 5.52 tonnes.
The engineers explained how they calculated this amount, and it makes sense. It turns out, however, that one crucial calculation is missing – how many carbon emissions it takes to produce the energy required for charging the six electric vehicles, which are powered through the main grid.
Their analysis is specific as far as it goes. The engineers didn’t just compare their new cars to any average car, but to petrol cars similar to the Nissan leaf model and Ford Fiestas, which are also new. They also took into account how many kilometres the average car belonging to the company travels per year.
This helps when calculating the savings in petrol. Comparing the electric cars to the Ford Fiesta 1.5 saloon which uses 5.16 litres per 100 kilometres, they estimated an average car in their possession travels around 10,000 kilometres, meaning the six cars have indeed a saving of 3.096 litres.
The emissions can also be calculated. The CO2 emissions of the Ford Fiesta are 92 grammes per kilometre, which are multiplied by the amount of kilometres and the number of vehicles, thus adding up to 5.52 tonnes per year.
So far, so good. But those six electric cars need charging and that takes electricity, and Cyprus’ electricity is largely powered by oil and oil means high carbon emissions.
When one considers the amount of carbon emissions for 2016, which the authority says is 0.00074 tonnes per kW/h, an engineer and expert in renewable energy sources came up with the figure of 6.669 tonnes per year for the 10,000 kilometres of travel. And that is way more than the emissions saved by the purchase of the new cars in a year.
According to the electricity authority, however, this last calculation is not that easy to make. “Every day our transmissions operator decides on a different combination of energy sources, and the amount of crude oil, renewables and gas oil varies,” spokeswoman of the EAC Christina Papadopoulou said, “how can somebody calculate the amount?”
The company also pointed out that its engineers have calculated the saving of emissions using the example of new cars. Older models emit more than the 92 grammes used for the calculations, thus the savings may well be more than 5.52 tonnes.
According to EAC engineer, Marios Papouttis, the emissions for the electricity generation will get less over time. While only 9 per cent of electricity is currently produced by renewable energy sources, this this percentage will increase considerably in the future.
Even having this in mind, electric cars are certainly not yet those wonderfully clean machines so often claimed in many countries where they tend to be hailed as the answer to all that is bad about cars.
As EAC chairman Andreas Marangos said when announcing the acquisition of the authority’s electric cars, increasing their numbers is an international trend. In Europe, he said, France and the UK have already announced timeframes concerning the exclusive use of electric cars.[…]
Speaking to ACTIVE radio on Friday, Communications Minister Marios Demetriades said the proposed legislation included more frequent checks to ensure elderly drivers fulfilled a
The proposal has become even more timely, the minister noted, in light of Thursday’s hit-and-run incident which has seen a 76-year-old man remanded in custody on suspicion of hitting a cyclist and fleeing the scene. The cyclist, 33-year-old Panagiotis Hadjinikolas from Zakaki, was killed.
The House, Demetriades also revealed is, in addition, reviewing another law on cyclists.
This legislation, he said, aimed to better protect cyclists while also setting out exactly how they should behave on the road.
“This legislation was submitted to the House months ago,” Demetriades said, adding he believed it should be approved as soon as possible “to be able to provide cyclist safety through the law”.
number of criteria.
Prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are 43 per cent higher in Cyprus than in other EU countries, the House commerce committee heard on Tuesday, only a month after supply became available to the local market.
While EU average prices are €0.55 per litre, the selling price in Cyprus is €0.78 per litre, head of the consumers union Loucas Aristodimou said during the session
Currently, two stations offer LPG, both of which are based in Nicosia and began supplying last month, MPs heard.Disy MP Andreas Kyprianou said around 350 vehicles currently use LPG as fuel
Drivers that have collected 10-12 penalty points on their driver’s licence will be sent to the classroom to attend road behaviour lessons instead of being sent to court, a system which seems to have remarkable results abroad.
The creation of a driver’s training school was passed by the Cabinet in June and will operate under the supervision of the Justice Ministry.
Statistics show that Cypriots are repeat offenders with 200,000 drivers being booked each year for traffic violations.
A typical example of the situation is last Wednesday’s police operation from 20:00 until 03:00 on Thursday morning.
A total of 209 bookings were made, 105 of which were speed violations, 29 for traffic light violations, 33 for using mobile telephones while a stolen motorbike was also recovered.
Traffic violators will follow a specialised series of lessons, prepared by the Justice Ministry, in line with their violations.
The classes are aimed at combatting dangerous road behaviour and to educate violating motorists in correct driving principles and attitudes.
The school will be responsible for conducting specialised courses for traffic violators, conduct practical examinations at the close of lessons. It will issue a relevant certificate of attendance and inform the police and courts of such. Failure to attend or complete a course will be regarded as a violation.
The school will also be responsible for cooperation with educational and other stakeholders in Cyprus and abroad in the promotion of research and the development of new and specialised training programmes and the adoption of good practices based on scientific research.
The classes will be available to persons with court referral following traffic violations, motorists who have had their licences revoked, motorists who have 12 penalty points or more on their driver’s licence and motorists with 10 penalty points on their licence and who volunteer to attend lessons.
The government’s traffic safety strategy includes the introduction of a driver’s education class in Lyceums and a new communications strategy aimed at youth with regards to road safety.
The government’s Road Safety Council had last called for a study on the issue to be prepared since it is widely if not officially acknowledged that the police already generally turn a blind eye to drivers on the highway speeding at up to 120km/h since all the country’s highways have at least two lanes of traffic.
The Public Works Department is still working on the report which will feature the opinions of all the relevant stakeholders but Phileleftheros on Tuesday reported that the Department itself as well as the police have already indicted they are against the idea.
The Public Works Department has raised objections noting that the highways were designed and constructed based on specific criteria taking into account that cars would be travelling at no more than 100km/h. Raising the speed limit would lead to the need for changes to the points of entrance into and exit from the highway, the Department says.
The police, meanwhile, are concerned a higher speed limit will encourage drivers to reach even higher speeds as they expect the same room for leeway they currently enjoy.
The Traffic Police note that Cyprus has amongst the safest highways in Europe with less than five fatalities per year and say changing the speed limit will make them far more perilous.
The highway entrance at Kornos is badly designed, as the Ministry of Transport itself acknowledges, making it highly dangerous.
The entrance lane drivers from Kornos must use to merge into the highway is only 50 metres long, making it nearly impossible to gain the necessary speed to enter the 100 kilometre per hour highway.
In addition, it does not give the opportunity to drivers occupying the left lane to move to the right lane, thus allowing the Kornos drivers to enter the left lane.
As a result, the Kornos drivers are either forced to drive on the side of the highway until the left lane is freed, or they must take a chance to merge onto the highway without being up to speed, endangering themselves and other drivers.
According to the latest figures, one in three lorries that were stopped for inspections were cited for various violations while the situation was more dire for buses which found most of them to have violated a traffic law in one shape or form.
The major campaign between July 24 and 30 in Cyprus was part of a wider European initiative by the European Traffic Police Network (TISPOL).
A total of 776 heavy vehicles were inspected out of which 305 were cited. A total of 104 inspections were made on buses during which 84 were cited for various violations while 672 lorries were inspected out of which 222 were cited for various violations.