Privatised cameras get the go ahead

Funding for the provision of privatised speed cameras was finally approved by Cabinet yesterday. The long-awaited decision will see a private firm provide 6,000 hours of speed camera enforcement a month, writes David Labanyi .

This will result in a significant increase in speeding enforcement. Last year 198,820 motorists were caught for the offence.

The cameras will be moved around approximately 600 roads and junctions identified by gardaí as being "prone to collisions". Decisions on when and where to site a camera will be taken by gardaí.

Asked when the cameras would begin operation, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said: "As early as possible this year. Until the contract is concluded we cannot confirm a date."

The Road Safety Strategy had set a target of June for having the cameras in place.

Concern over the expected cost of the project emerged late last year. Initial Government estimates put costs in the region of €5 million per annum but these proved to be significantly below the tender estimates that put annual costs closer to €25 million per annum.

The higher than expected figures prompted the Department of Justice to review the project, resulting in a delay which drew an angry response from the chairman of the Road Safety Authority Gay Byrne, among others.

Yesterday, however, the Cabinet agreed to proceed with the "outsourcing of a countrywide safety camera network, in line with the Road Safety Strategy".

The Department of Justice said in a statement it would contact the preferred bidder with a view to starting contract negotiations.

Any additional funds required for the project will be provided through a supplementary estimate.

Neither the Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan nor the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey made a comment on the matter last night. A spokesman for the RSA declined to comment until the Authority was provided with more information.

A speed camera working group estimated that the revenue accruing to the Exchequer from speed cameras will be about €70 million.
© 2008 The Irish Times