Alliance Infrastructure Spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has said he is “deeply concerned” at impact Covid-19 is having on the DVA, after figures revealed the organisation had suffered multi-million pound losses and confirmation that vehicle testing capacity is at only 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
A Northern Ireland Audit Office report found that after MOT testing centres were required to close in January due to faulty lifts, the DVA lost almost £4m in lost income and compensation. MOT Centres were closed again in March due to COVID-19, and drivers scheduled for an MOT were issued with Temporary Exemption Certificates (TECs).
While testing for all vehicles restarted again in September, MOT Centres are still only running at 30 percent of normal capacity, raising concerns about a future backlog. This comes at a time when the DVA already faces huge challenges such as rescheduling a long list of cancelled driving tests, including for key workers, in the midst of continued uncertainty.
Mr Muir said: “The DVA’s present situation is a real cause for concern: figures released today show the extent of the DVA’s losses at the start of the year primarily due to the lifts fiasco, and we know that since then the DVA has continued to lose millions of pounds in lost test income due to COVID-19.
“Furthermore, the news that test centres are only running at 30 percent of capacity is very worrying. It means that TECs are likely to continue to be required for most vehicles, and an increasing share of cars on our roads that have not had an MOT in over a year. It also raises questions about how the DVA will keep up with demand when many TEC’s expire at the start of next year, as currently the law does not allow for 12-month TECs to be extended.
“I call on the Minister to set out what work is being done to attempt to increase DVA capacity in the current circumstances, and what contingency planning is taking place for if capacity continues to be reduced well into 2021.
“In the meantime, it is essential that people are made fully aware of when they need to book their tests, and car owners are reminded that they are fully responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are roadworthy. The Minister recently had a bid turned down for additional money for winter service including road gritting. A concerted campaign should be introduced to ensure road safety over the winter period.”