MOT test backlog: Sunday opening just ‘drop in the ocean’

Some MOT testing centres in Northern Ireland are fully booked for over two months
Some MOT testing centres in Northern Ireland are fully booked for over two months
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A Northern Ireland businessman has said the introduction of Sunday opening hours at MOT test centres in a bid to clear long waiting times will prove little more than a “drop in the ocean” .

Martin Hamill, of Premier Cars NI, had urged the Stormont department responsible for MOT testing to “get your finger out” and take action to clear the lengthy waiting times – which in some cases stretch for over two months.

The Department of Infrastructure has now hired extra staff, opened test centres on bank holidays, and last week confirmed that it would begin accepting MOT appointments on Sundays for the first time.

But Mr Hamill, whose business relies on being able to access vehicle inspections, believes those actions are simply not enough.

“The Sunday tests will help, yes, but it’s a drop in the ocean,” he told the News Letter.

“It won’t clear the backlog, no way. Not when you have thousands and thousands of cars having to take the MOT.

“Since the big 2008 crash people are holding on to their cars longer. People don’t have the money they had before.

“People who might have decided to just go and buy a new car when the MOT was up are deciding to hold on to the car they have instead. And cars are lasting longer.”

The Belfast-based businessman believes the Department of Infrastructure should also issue exemptions for drivers whose cars are “roadworthy” but are unable to secure a test due to the backlog.

“The waiting times are a joke – opening on Sundays is not going to get rid of the backlog.”

He added: “What’s going to happen come January when there’s another 100,000 or so cars due for their first MOT? They need to take another look at exemptions.”

Last week, the department said it was “reviewing the current legislation to determine under what circumstances a temporary exemption may be issued”.

The News Letter has requested an update on that review.

The PSNI, meanwhile, has said previously that it is in “discussions” with the Driver and Vehicle Agency about whether officers should exercise “discretion” for drivers impacted by the long waiting times.

This week a PSNI spokesperson said: “Police would urge anyone receiving their (reminder) letter to act upon it immediately and, if you didn’t get a letter, make sure your vehicle is properly registered with DVLA. It is an offence to fail to properly register your vehicle.”