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Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian criticized the Armenian traffic police on Thursday for what he described as excessive delays in the registration of cars and the ongoing replacement of driver’s licenses.

Sarkisian said he has instructed the chief of the national police department, Vladimir Gasparian, to personally address long lines formed at traffic police offices in Yerevan.

The queues result, in large measure, from the government’s decision last year to replace all driver’s permits issued in Soviet times and in the 1990s with new, plastic ones. Scores of motorists scrambled to receive them before the January 2012 deadline. The deadline was last month extended to next June.

“Lately we have been receiving complaints regarding services provided by the police and in particular the car registration and the issuance of driver’s licenses,” Sarkisian said, opening a weekly meeting of his cabinet. “Instructions regarding this problem have been given to the police chief, and we must improve the quality of the services within a short period.”

“This is an area where more than 300,000 citizens of Armenia deal with the state each year. It creates an attitude towards the state,” he told ministers.

The premier announced that the traffic police are now developing a new computerized database of vehicles and will open a new office in the capital this April. He said car owners should be able to spend no more than 20 minutes completing the police paperwork.

Sarkisian has also initiated other major changes in road policing. That includes the ongoing gradual installation of surveillance and speed cameras. Such digital devices were recently placed at two dozen major streets and street intersections in Yerevan. The police officially started operating them on Monday.
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