The Department of Infrastructure has come under fire regarding long waits for MOTs here in Northern Ireland. Clanrye News and Sport has been approached by a member of the public who indicated that when she booked an MOT in May the closest appointment the lady got was in October. Furthermore the lady who lives in Newry could only get an MOT in Downpatrick.
A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said:
“The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) has steadily increased its vehicle testing capacity to pre-Covid levels by adopting a range of measures including the recruitment of additional vehicle examiners, the use of overtime to provide cover for leave and by offering vehicle test appointments on a Sunday and bank holidays, when testing is not normally available.
“The DVA continues to experience significant demand for vehicle testing services and in some cases customers may not be able to have their vehicles tested before their current MOT certificate expires. In such cases, customers must book the earliest available test appointment for their vehicle, which may mean travelling to another test centre instead of their preferred location. The DVA releases vehicle test appointments on a daily basis and customers are encouraged to regularly check the booking system as they may be able to change their existing appointment to a different test centre and time if a slot becomes available.
“The latest information on MOTs is available on NI Direct at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/book-view-change-or-cancel-mot-vehicle-test and is also included as an advice note with every MOT Reminder Letter issued to their customers.”
Commenting on the MOT delays Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA stated,
“This is a concerning issue and one that is regularly the subject of discussion in my constituency office as people have been in continual contact over the long delays in securing an MOT date. I know locally many people have now expired MOT’s with first available appointments then booked well in to September and October that is a concern for people.”
He added, “An additional significant problem is the fact that drivers whose road tax has ran out and have expired MOTs with a date secured many weeks away, cannot tax their car and have received letters from DVA stating that they will be fined if they do not either SORN or tax their vehicle. This is an impossible situation and it really is high time the Minister John O’Dowd intervened. The previous Minister Nicola Mallon simply did not do enough to address this issue which has then snowballed to the extent visible today. Action must be taken to respond to this issue and take the uncertainty and delay away for drivers across Northern Ireland. Whilst officials may point people towards cancellations, this system is hit and miss and requires access to a computer for a period of time in the mornings and then it is a lottery whether you can get a slot and then where that slot will be in the province. It really simply isn’t good enough that drivers have these hoops to jump through and it must rapidly change.”
Aontu representative for Newry and Armagh Daniel Connolly expressed his concerns regarding long delays for MOT testing.
Mr Connolly added:
“There have been massive delays for MOT tests over the past few months. I’m hearing stories about individuals booking their test in Newry in May but the closest available date being October in Downpatrick. I myself have had to wait months for my car in Armagh. This is horrendous. The MOT is supposed to ensure that cars are road worthy, that they are safe. We are told that the costly process of an MOT is done to save lives. However now we hear that the Executive have not provided for the necessary staff to do this key test. Either the test is necessary or it’s not. If it is necessary, the government is derelict in their duty.”
“The capacity in all centres must be increased to mitigate such delays. Over the coming months the demand put on MOT centres is going to increase. We need an urgent response so that the failure of the government to appropriately plan doesn’t cause more stress for families and communities. The mind still boggles that MLAs are still getting paid for not doing their jobs.”
However Newry and Armagh representative for the UUP, Councillor David Taylor has called for the reintroduction of temporary exemption certificates in order to assist with clearing the back log.
Councillor Taylor said:
“There are understandable concerns about the continued failure of the infrastructure department to ensure timely MOT tests. The problem shows no sign of abating.
“The Ulster Unionist Party believes that consideration should be given to allowing Temporary Exemption Certificates which were used at the height of the pandemic to be re-introduced for a period to clear the backlog.
“Once pressure on the system is relieved, the testing schedule could then revert back to the present system of testing at 4 years and every year thereafter.”