29/01/2020

Review Ordered Over MOT Suspensions

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has ordered two independent reviews into issues with vehicle lifts that caused the ongoing suspension of MOT tests.

Inspections on cars and light vehicles have been fully suspended until further notice.

It comes after faults with vehicle lifts were first identified last November.

Minister Mallon visited a south Belfast MOT centre on Tuesday to announce the reviews- one to determine the exact timeline and series of events leading to this week's chaos and the other to identify how best to rectify the situation.

It could take months for the issue to be resolved, the DVA has said.

In the meantime, motorists with an expired MOT will be automatically issued with an exemption certificate and can therefore continue driving, however taxis and four year-old cars are not eligible.

The Department has committed to prioritising these vehicles in a bid to minimise disruption.

Heavy goods vehicles and buses will continue to be processed and opening hours have been extended to increase capacity and facilitate the prioritisation of vehicles with imminent expiry dates.

Speaking from the DVA's Boucher Road test centre, Minister Mallon said on Tuesday: "I have reassured staff and customers I have met, that the absolute priority is the health and safety of all. While I share the huge frustration and concern this has caused, I want to be clear, there will be absolutely no risks taken on my watch.
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"I have a duty to protect staff and customers and therefore, until I am satisfied, a suspended service remains in place for MOT testing for cars and light vehicles. Anyone scheduled for a car or light vehicle MOT should not attend."

The SDLP MLA continued: "I want to reassure the public that, while I have inherited this mess, as I am only two weeks in the job, I will not be leaving customers in this situation again. That is why I have instructed my Permanent Secretary to commission two separate reviews, which I will oversee.

"The first is an investigation of the timeline and events that led up to the situation that arose last night. I need greater assurance than I have at present about the maintenance and testing regime in operation within DVA and about the way in which initial concerns about the lifting equipment were followed up and addressed. I want to know the precise timeline and to understand who knew what and when and all actions taken. This review will be carried out independently by professional auditors managed from outside the Department.

"The second review will be carried out by an external expert which we are currently in the process of appointing and will provide me with independent advice on the steps that need to be taken to return our MOT centres urgently to a position where a full testing service can be provided. It is not acceptable to me that we are in a position where the DVA cannot guarantee a safe operating environment. It is equally unacceptable to me to have a lengthy period where vehicles are not undergoing the tests needed to ensure they are roadworthy and to keep all of us safe on the roads."

Minister Mallon concluded: "I am determined to get a safe, sustainable and trusted service up and running as soon as and as safely as possible - and I commit to keeping the public updated."



(JG/CM)

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