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Robust plan needed to safely resume MOT tests, says Muir

Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has said a robust plan to safely resume MOT tests is needed, after most MOT tests in Northern Ireland were cancelled due to defective equipment.

The Driver and Vehicle Agency has said it may take weeks or months to repair or replace defective lifts at MOT centres, which have showed signs of cracking on 15 January 2020. Tests on heavy goods vehicles and buses will continue.

North Down MLA Mr Muir said full clarity was needed from the Minister for those affected.

“Health and safety should always come first, there is no doubt about that,” said Mr Muir.

“But we are now in a ridiculous situation where even though assurances had previously been given, we may now have weeks or even months where no MOT certificates can be issued for cars and light vehicles. While exemption certificates can be issued for some motorists, questions remain for those drivers of four-year-old cars which have not been through an MOT or taxis, which are covered by different legislation.

“Risks of having unroadworthy vehicles on the roads also continues to increase, with more and more exemption certificates granted for vehicles which would normally not have been allowed on the roads due to an expired MOT.

“A full explanation is needed from the Minister to give clarity on what drivers can do and how long this issue will take to clear. Once the defective equipment is replaced, there will obviously be a backlog of vehicles needing tested. We need to hear what will be done to clear that as well.

“I would urge the Minister and officials to explore whether compensation can be secured from the supplier for cost of repairs or replacements, and also inconvenience caused to motorists. Cost of getting the equipment fixed and MOTs resumed should not hit already strained public finances nor result in increased MOT fees.

“Some ways to clear the ever-increasing backlog must also be explored to ensure we get cars tested as soon as possible. Legislative change temporarily extending requirement for four-year-old cars to get a certificate to five years, exploring use of private facilities in Northern Ireland and Ireland’s National Car Testing Service facilities in border areas to undertake MOTs are three issues the Minister and officials should now be exploring.”