Car testing backlog crisis deepens as drivers face six month wait for appointments

Pressure is mounting on MOT centres across Northern Ireland, with waiting times for tests now running into January next year.

The backlog is affecting motorists, as well as used car dealerships.

The pressure can even be felt in car mechanic workshops, which are being inundated with calls for MOT services.

Jonathan Murphy from JM Auto in north Belfast told UTV: "It's just been so busy, it's mad. It's mostly MOT work and stuff rather than servicing and general maintenance."

Customers trying to book appointments with their mechanics are facing three week long waits.

However, the backlog in MOT centres is much worse, with the earliest scheduled appointment now reaching January 2023.

Motorists have been told they can still drive past their MOT deadline, so long as they have booked an appointment and their car is 'roadworthy'.

However, drivers are concerned they may not be able to tax their vehicle.

Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd has told UTV this is not a problem.

"If you're within five days of needing an MOT for tax purposes, every motorist who has followed those instructions has got an MOT in time," said Mr O'Dowd.

The DUP's Diane Forsythe has criticised the Minister, describing the current situation as an "uncoordinated mess".

"He has inherited the problem but there is an option to do something about it," said the South Down MLA.

"It's operational, it doesn't require extra money.

"It requires someone to monitor the backlog, to sensibly go in and say this is how many people have expired MOTs, we are in a crisis situation, this is a fiasco and we need to take extreme measures."

The Infrastructure Minister said the DUP is part of the problem.

"I will need additional people and resources to bring the MOT timings back to what they were pre-pandemic.

"I don't see any of that available, partly because of the DUP." 

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