An Ulster Unionist MLA has expressed concern after the waiting list for an MoT test increased by almost 60,000 in just two months.
In September, 93,653 applications were submitted to the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) for a full test, with 57,227 completed.
Last month, another 95,555 motorists applied for an MoT but 22,001 of those were not completed.
In total, 189,208 applications were submitted and 130,781 MoTs were carried out in that period — leaving 58,427 motorists still waiting on a test.
The figures were revealed in the Department for Infrastructure’s (DfI) ‘DVA Monthly Tests Conducted Statistics — October 2021’ report.
The DVA’s director of operations, Pat Delaney, told MLAs earlier this month the agency is “struggling” with sickness absences among examiners, with long Covid among the causes.
East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs has now urged Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to utilise Temporary Exemption Certificates (TEC) so motorists requiring an MoT for their vehicle can avoid fines or prosecution.
The DfI said it has applied TECs to all eligible vehicles to ensure that they can be driven legally as it continues to deal with the backlog.
Releasing October’s statistics, the DfI explained the 1,902 rise in applications from September was partly due to TECs issued in March expiring. The 73,554 full vehicle tests in October was just over 28% (16,327) higher compared with September (57,227), and 6% above the five year October average (69,531).
Of the 15 testing centres in Northern Ireland, those which carried out the highest number of tests in October included Newtownards (8,150), Belfast (Balmoral — 8,058), Craigavon (6,445), Mallusk (6,010), Londonderry (Newbuildings — 5,946) and Lisburn (5,678).
Mr Beggs, who sits on Stormont’s Infrastructure Committee, said it has become increasingly difficult to book an MoT anywhere in Northern Ireland as the booking website offers an extremely limited availability of slots over the next 10 weeks.
“I am concerned that the MoT waiting list has grown over the past two months,” he said.
“It is extremely disappointing that staffing levels have not enabled testing capacity return to the pre-Covid testing levels of 2019.
“Hard working DVA testers are carrying out additional shifts during the evenings and at weekends but still cannot meet demand.
“Meanwhile, it is increasingly difficult for the public to keep their cars on the road.”
A spokesperson for the DfI said the DVA has taken a range of measures to increase MoTs with the recruitment of additional vehicle examiners, use of overtime, making extra vehicle test slots available daily at most centres and offering appointments on a Sunday at most test centres and on Bank Holidays.
The DVA has also consulted with the PSNI and the Association of British Insurers to make them aware of the current position.
“In the event police encounter an untaxed vehicle, so long as they can ascertain that a vehicle is roadworthy, has a forthcoming MoT test date and is not SORNED, then police will not take any further action,” stated the DfI.
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