19 January 2023
By Elaine Murphy
Confirmation that Road Safety Authority (RSA) is engaged in legal process to impose penalties relating to NCT contract is welcome – but must be fully pursued
The Government must urgently address ongoing delays being experienced by motorists trying to access National Car Testing (NCT) centres and apply appropriate penalties on operator Applus+ for any breaches of its contract, according to Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy.
“In recent years, motorists have experienced unacceptably long delays when trying to book a test in their preferred centre – often up to several months at some locations – with factors such as staff shortages and Covid-19 being blamed.
“According to the NCT’s website, none of the centres around the country can offer appointments within the 28-day period, with Leinster and Dublin seeing the longest waiting times.
“Despite the NCT’s customer charter promising a free test if no appointment is available within a 28-day period, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has confirmed that no customer was offered this concession last year. Will eligible drivers now be entitled to a refund and, if so, will Applus+ be held liable for these payments under the terms of their contract?
“It is also worth noting that the NCT contract was rolled over for a further 10 years in 2020. We need to know if key performance indicators were met by the company before the contact was renewed by the RSA.
“At the core of this issue is vehicle safety and compliance with road traffic legislation. It continues to be an offence to drive a car without a current NCT certificate under the Road Traffic Act 1961, with motorists at risk of five penalty points on their licence, a fine of up to €2,500 or three months in prison.
“While we are advised that insurance companies are taking a pragmatic and understanding approach to the issue of backlogs at testing centres, drivers remain concerned they may not be covered in the event of an accident for not having a valid NCT certificate.
“The high demand for tests demonstrates that motorists want to be compliant, but the system is not allowing them to be.
“Minister of State Jack Chambers confirmed to me in the Dáil today that the RSA is engaged in a legal process to impose penalties on Applus+ for not providing services to the State, as contracted. This approach must be fully pursued by the Government to restore public confidence in the NCT system and ensure there is full accountability for the sub-par levels of service currently being offered.”