The Public Accounts Committee has issued a damning report on the failures at DVA Northern Ireland, leading to the revelation in 2019 that the majority of state-run MOT ramps had serious structural defects and needed to be taken out of service.
The report states that DVA ‘had not projected the lifespan of crucial equipment’ and didn’t have any kind of phased replacement plan in place, a fact that the Committee found ‘deeply concerning’. The report notes that the lifts each had between 150,000-160,000 cycles on them when the defects were found, and that a lift of the same age would typically have around 22,000.
52 out of 55 lifts were found to have cracks of varying levels of seriousness, but all needed to be replaced at the cost of £1.8m. Even before the problems with the lifts came to light there were significant problems with the testing regime, with frequent strikes and poor customer service leading to waiting times for customers for months. Test centres were shut down while replacement lifts were installed, and remained shut during the first lockdown meaning that many motorists did not have a valid MOT certificate for nearly two years.
The report also recommended that NI’s Department for Infrastructure should commission a review of the DVA and assess the effectiveness of the whole operation, including customer service.
Finally, criticism was meted out over the DVA’s handling of its lift maintenance contract with Maha, recommending that it ‘strengthens its oversight’ of the contract, and that it should ensure that any future supply and maintenance contracts have appropriate penalty clauses.
‘The Committee finds it ironic that an organisation in the business of testing the roadworthiness of vehicles was not able to ensure its own equipment was being maintained’ said the report.