The Department for Infrastructure says “normal capacity” has been restored to MOT testing in Northern Ireland.
The claim was made in a letter written to Mid Ulster District Council’s deputy chief executive and strategic director of environment, Anne-Marie Campbell by the then Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon’s private secretary, Kathryn McFerran.
Written on March 23, the letter is a response to a letter from Ms Campbell concerning delays in obtaining vehicle and driving test appointments.
In her letter to the Minister, dated March 4, Ms Campbell noted “many drivers are unable to get vehicles tested before their current MOT certificate expires” and said “there is a backlog in securing driving tests appointments”.
In response, Ms McFerran said the DVA has “steadily increased its vehicle testing capacity” and explained that with an extension of facilities at Newbuildings, additional testing capacity is now available to meet demand in the north-west.
As a result the DVA expects “waiting times to reduce over time through the actions they have taken to increase vehicle testing capacity across the network”.
It also notes that from September 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022 more than 414,700 full vehicle tests have taken place which it is claimed is “10 per cent more than the five-year average for those months”.
“Normal capacity has, therefore, been restored to MOT testing,” reads the letter.
“As of March 21, 2022, the DVA has confirmed that over 48,000 vehicle test appointments were available across its network of centres up to June 30, 2022.
“In some cases customers may not be able to have their vehicles tested before their current MOT certificate expires. In such cases, customers must book the earliest available test appointment for their vehicle, which may mean travelling to another test centre instead of their preferred location.”
The letter also advises customers who require an MOT to tax a vehicle but are unable to secure a date before the tax expires to book the earliest available appointment and keep checking the booking system for an appointment before their tax expires.
“If a customer gets to within five days of their tax expiry date, they should contact email@example.com and the DVA will do its best to secure an urgent appointment for their vehicle,” reads the letter.
“To date, all customers who have contacted the DVA in these circumstances, have been offered an earlier appointment slot.”
With regards to driver testing, the letter notes that from April 23, 2021 to February 28, 2022, the DVA has conducted 58,517 driving tests which is “already more than the total number of tests conducted in 2018/19”.
It goes on to explain there are currently 89 full time and dual role examiners who can conduct driving tests and can be deployed across the network of tests centres to meet demand. The DVA is also in the process of recruiting for 16 new full-time driving examiners and it is hoped these examiners will be in post “in the next couple of months”.
The letter also notes the DVA is releasing private car driving test slots five months in advance with all test centres set to release appointments on the first working day of each month.
Finally, the letter concludes by noting “the Minister remains committed to minimising disruption and ensuring our plans for the restoration of services is in hand”.