I caught sight of the Police SUV from a way off. As I checked my speed, I puzzled why he would stop in such a prominent spot. Mostly, speed traps are set around curves, giving them maximum chance of clocking the traffic over the limit. Moments later, the SUV was behind me, sirens on and lights flashing. I checked my speed again. I was in “Kyproulla”, my 2004 Nissan March. She can speed, she can cool me with air-conditioning, and she can climb hills, but generally, she can only do one of those things at a time. I determined to ignore the cop - he must be on his way to somewhere else. As he overtook, he gestured for me to pull over. I did.
“The car is not taxed, sir.”
“Are you sure?” I replied. I’m generally a compliant sort of guy and pay my taxes.
“I’ll phone Nicosia, to check.”
“Yep. Last tax was paid in 2019. I’m going to fine you 85€”
Road Tax in Cyprus is not the most user-friendly system. It’s due for a calendar year (or half). You log on to the central payment system, where you can pay your water bills and local taxes too. I did in December of last year. I was not able to make payment. Too early. I tried again in January. Nope. Still not ready. Then - Mags’ back happened. I simply forgot. OK. My bad.
Here’s the thing.
The officer issued me a fine, which was printed on a mobile thermal printer. On it, was my name, my driving licence number, my full address and my residence permit number. I gave him none of that data.
Essentially, he punched in my car registration and all this data is there. Hardly rocket science, I know. But, if they have a decent database system in place, surely it’s not beyond the wit of man to automate an e-mail reminder?
To those intent on not paying the tax, or to those without e-mail, this would make no difference. However, for many who want to pay, such a service would mitigate the clumsiness of the payment mechanism. Call me mad, but if I want to pay my road tax for 2020 in December 2019, I should be able to.
I got home, furious at myself. I logged on and paid road tax for both cars - and the added late-penalties. Then I logged on to the police website and paid my fine. Again I gritted my teeth. All this wonderful technology, and nobody thought to implement a reminder service. It's almost like they want you to get caught out…