Temporary exemption certificates (TECs) will be issued to motorists who have expired MOTs as a result of DVA cancelling test appointments last week.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon says the certificates will be issued during ongoing repair work, which has affected centres across NorthernIreland – including Armagh and Craigavon.
Minister Mallon said: “The health and safety of staff and customers remains my priority and while the DVA has been working to address issues with its vehicle lifts as quickly as possible, it is clear that the inspections and repairs are taking longer than initially expected and causing disruption to customers.
“I therefore instructed DVA to begin issuing TECs as soon as practically possible.
“Progress has been made and from Monday, January 27, customers who have had their MOT cancelled by the DVA due to ongoing repair work will be issued with a TEC.
“These exemptions will extend a vehicle’s MOT by four months and will be backdated to January 20. However, taxi vehicles and four year old cars will unfortunately not be able to avail of the TEC.
“This is because four year old cars do not have an MOT certificate to extend and legislation does not permit the DVA to issue TECs for taxis. Therefore the DVA will instead prioritise appointments for those vehicles and for taxis as an essential service to the public.
“These arrangements will continue until I am satisfied test centres are operating normally again, at which point I will notify the public.
“The exemptions will allow motorists to continue to go about their daily lives without further disruption. Vehicle owners will be sent a reminder notice for the new expiry date well in advance, so a new free test can be booked.
“I am aware that some customers are attending for tests and are being turned away. At this time, the DVA is seeking to prioritise tests for those customers whose MOT is about to expire or requiring a retest to get their vehicle back on the road.
“However, the DVA is continuing to contact customers to cancel tests where necessary and where contact details are available. I have instructed the DVA to ensure that every effort is made to reach customers including by direct contact and through media forums.
“Recognising the disruption caused to people across the north, I have instructed the DVA to pay the maximum amount of compensation that is permissible and to ensure motorists receive their new test at no cost.”
Minister Mallon continued: “Tomorrow I will provide a written statement to the Northern Ireland Assembly and will make every effort to communicate clearly to the public any updates on this situation.
“I understand that this is a matter of concern for the public and I can give my assurance that I will continue to work with the DVA to find a swift and safe solution to get operations fully functioning again.
“I have also instructed officials to prepare a full review into how this situation arose, the contingency planning in place and communication with the public.
“My priority is to put in place steps to prevent this ever happening again.
“If you have not been contacted by the DVA to cancel your MOT test, please attend as planned.
“It is the responsibility of the vehicle owner to ensure their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition to be used on a public road. Tests are ongoing at all test centres and additional slots at weekends are being made available.
“Motorists should continue to book an MOT appointment when they receive their reminder letter. This will ensure they can be issued with a TEC should the DVA need to cancel the appointment. The DVA may call the vehicle for testing earlier than the new expiry date in order to manage demand.
“The DVA sincerely apologises for the impact on its customers. The health and safety of customers and staff remains my top priority, while ensuring every effort is made to minimise disruption.”