Minister rules out privatisation of MOT services in Northern Ireland

The move would take ‘work and jobs away from our valued public servants’

Minister rules out privatisation of MOT services in Northern Ireland
Photo: Bigstock

The Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd has ruled out the privatisation of MOT services.

This comes after the chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) said motorists face an average wait of 72 days for MOT tests.

It also emerged that cracks have been found in 16 scissor lifts at testing stations in Northern Ireland.

Mr O’Dowd said: “There have been calls for my Department to adopt a similar vehicle testing model to that in Britain, through a network of authorised garages.

“Let there be no mistake, that is a call for privatisation of MOT services, taking work and jobs away from our valued public servants, I will never support that approach.

“The existing legislative framework here rightly does not provide for vehicle tests to be conducted at private garages. The disaggregated private sector test model is unique to Britain, with most European nations favouring a public sector delivery model either delivered by public servants as in the North, or through a contracted authority as in the South.

Mr O’Dowd was critical of the British model, highlighting the “expensive” test fee and concerns over fraud.

He added: “In Britain as well as being more expensive at nearly £55, MOT fraud is an issue of concern to the DVSA, so much so that they dedicate part of their official website to how they expend effort tackling the issue. This would mean people could get a MOT certificate without ever getting their car tested, resulting in unsafe cars on our roads. 

“DVA staff are working extremely hard to reduce waiting times through increasing its capacity with nearly 1.2m MOT test carried out in the last financial year, the most ever in a single year.

“I will be making announcements in the Assembly on further measures to alleviate waiting times and have asked officials to bring forward other options for my urgent consideration, however privatisation is ruled out.”

Two new test centres will open in Northern Ireland, with the DVA saying they will be able to test 200,000 additional vehicles a year. The centre in south Belfast will open this year, around two years later than scheduled, while a test centre in County Antrim planned for 2024, won’t open until 2025.

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