MOT tests in Northern Ireland are run by the Government through the Driver and Vehicle Testing Agency (DVTA).
Strike action by members of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) has forced nine MOT test centres to close progressively since May 17, 2004, and so far the strike has not been resolved. The walkout by 150 of the total 25,000 members of NISPA has resulted in 55,000 MOT and HGV tests that could have taken place not being performed.
Matthew Carrington, chief executive of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), says: 'This strike could not have happened if the MOT stations were privately owned.
“The RMI has been campaigning for the better part of a decade to have the MOT in Northern Ireland privatised, to bring it in line with the rest of the UK, but Government in Northern Ireland resists.”
He continues: “Privatisation of the MOT in Northern Ireland would be good for everyone. Even under normal circumstances, the average wait for an MOT test in Northern Ireland is 21 days, compared with testing on demand, or by appointment, in Great Britain.”
Another option for Northern Ireland's MOT structure could be a franchise system similar to that used in Eire.
Carrington says: “Test centres in Eire work on a franchise system. A company will take on the MOT franchise for a period of 10 years then they must tender for the contract again. This could be adopted in Northern Ireland.”