MOT tests for cars and light vehicles in Northern Ireland have been suspended.
The move came yesterday evening after issues were raised with lift equipment at test centres. Signs of cracking were found by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in 48 of 55 lifts, leading to some 5,000 MOT tests already being cancelled. Four-month exemption certificates are being issued for vehicles affected.
DVA chief executive Paul Duffy announced the suspension of the tests at its 15 centres – the only places in Northern Ireland where MOT tests can be carried out.
‘Following further inspections of lift faults in MOT centres, the contractor has not provided sufficient assurance to DVA this evening on the effectiveness of the ongoing repairs.
‘To ensure the health and safety of staff and customers and as a precautionary measure, DVA has suspended all MOT testing for cars and light vehicles with immediate effect. Tests on heavy goods vehicles and buses will continue.’
Car and light vehicle drivers with tests scheduled for today were advised not to attend.
In Northern Ireland, cars are due their first MOT after four years and taxis from when they are first used, and Duffy said: ‘All customers, except customers with four-year-old vehicles and taxis, will be automatically issued an MOT exemption certificate and therefore can continue to drive.
‘The exemption will be recorded in the DVA system and a hard copy will arrive by post in the coming days.
‘For customers with four-year-old vehicles and taxis, we are working to urgently find a solution to get these vehicles through MOT and will contact customers directly.
‘The DVA will issue a further statement as a matter of urgency to advise these customers and those who have MOTs booked for later this week. We want to advise customers that more cancellations are very likely.’
His statement acknowledged the ‘considerable inconvenience and disruption’ for many people and said it ‘sincerely apologises that it has been unable to rectify this situation more quickly’.
Reacting to the news, Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers’ Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, said a shake-up of the Northern Ireland MOT system was ‘imperative’ to let dealers carry out tests.
‘The MOT has repeatedly been an issue for both motorists and dealers in Northern Ireland, primarily due to long waiting times,’ she said.
‘The NFDA has been made aware that to address the shortage of MOT appointments available, centres have had to open on Sundays and regularly add extra appointments. This may have put an additional strain on certain centres’ facilities, potentially causing some of the current issues.
‘Recent problems have made it apparent that it is time to review how MOT tests are carried out in Northern Ireland. The NFDA calls on the government to enable franchised dealers in Northern Ireland to conduct MOTs as in the rest of the UK.’