The proposal that MOT testing in Northern Ireland should move from annual to biennial testing has stirred up a variety of opinions among the trade and the public and, over the past weeks, National Franchised Dealers Association Northern Ireland (NFDA NI) has drawn attention to the issues currently facing the MOT system in Northern Ireland and the Department for Infrastructure’s proposals for biennial testing.
IAAF is advising against the Northern Ireland Executive’s (NIE) potential introduction of biennial MOT testing (every two years) for private cars, light goods vehicles following the news that the NIE is consulting on the matter. The current testing frequency in Northern Ireland is 4-1-1 with the first vehicle test at four years of age and then a test every year after. The IAAF argues that the current test frequency is both safer and more cost effective for motorists.
The Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure is consulting on whether MoT tests should be conducted every two years. The announcement follows test delays resulting from the Northern Ireland MOT lift crisis and the pandemic.
When cracks were found in vehicle lifts belonging to Northern Ireland’s MOT body, Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA), all of its 55 lifts and therefore the country’s centrally run MOT system came to a standstill. A little over a year later, the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee published its “Report on Driver and Vehicle Agency 2019-20”, which examined how vehicle testing came to be suspended due to problems with virtually all of the DVA’s vehicle lifts.
The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) welcomed the end of the MOT extension period on 1 August. The federation argues that the move will not only significantly increase road safety but will give a much-needed boost to the automotive sector overall.
Steve Nash, CEO of The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has welcomed the return of mandatory MOT testing from 1 August. “The exemption from mandatory MOT testing announced at the end of March made sense at that time. But our sector moved very quickly to ensure it could work safely and support motorists during the lockdown,” he said.
Drivers in Northern Ireland whose MOTs are due during the pandemic shutdown will enjoy a one-year exemption, a Stormont minister said. It would not be possible to accommodate the backlog as well as conduct normal business at testing centres, infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said. Drivers will instead apply for MOTs as normal next year. The announcement caps a year of turmoil for MOT testers in the region. In January, all tests were suspended due to faults with vehicle lifts used in MOT centres. Anti-Coronavirus lockdown measures had already led to further extensions for the MOT exemption.
In addition to the news that the Maha Duo+1 scissor lift if the model behind the Northern Ireland MOT crisis, GEA chief executive Julian Woods has pointed out that these Irish lifts are different to UK equivalents: “Vehicle lifts used for performing MOT tests in Ireland are of a different design/specification to those required in the UK MOT market and as such we cannot compare the situations.”
Maha Ireland has confirmed that its Maha DUO+1 scissor lift is behind the Northern Ireland MOT crisis. The lift, which has been supplied to DVA centres across Northern Ireland and is also believed to have been supplied to NCT centres in the Republic of Ireland, suffering from cracking which resulted in the suspension of all car MOTS in Northern Ireland on 27 January 2020.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced reviews into the MOT fiasco during a visit to DVA’s Boucher Road test centre on 28 January.
Speaking from the test centre, Minister Mallon said: “I have just been in speaking with staff here at the Boucher Road DVA centre. Staff are working tirelessly on the frontline to process priority customers and to communicate with the public. However, I have acted decisively to minimise disruption.”