Belfast Telegraph

2,500 botched road pothole repairs in Northern Ireland in last four years

By Adrian Rutherford

More than 2,500 pothole repairs had to be redone in the last four years because the initial work was substandard.

In the last 10 months alone almost 600 repairs were deemed "unsatisfactory".

Motorists have complained about potholes being patched up, only for the filling to fall out again within a day or two.

It will raise fresh questions about the resources put in to repairing our roads. A total of 2,665 repairs were deemed unsatisfactory between April 2012 and January this year.

The figures were released by Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen after an Assembly question from Ukip MLA David McNarry. Pothole repairs are officially termed "road reinstatements" by the Department for Regional Development.

Ms McIlveen's answer discloses that 568 repairs were deemed unsatisfactory between April 2015 and January. Mr McNarry said it was clear the quality of road repairs was not good enough.

"It is an indictment of the chaos in that department - conning people that they are fixing potholes," he said. "I know of potholes which are filled in one day and the next day they have fallen apart again."

Ms McIlveen said that 759 repairs were deemed unsatisfactory in 2012/13 and a further 704 in 2013/14.

In the 12 months to April 2015, there were 634 potholes which needed repaired more than once. Follow-up inspections cost £347,000, although TransportNI said this cost was covered by the company which carried out the repairs. Ms McIlveen said the courts also imposed fines of £250 in 2013/14 and £500 in 2014/15 for offences relating to reinstatement of road openings.

But Mr McNarry said it wasn't good enough, with motorists left struggling to navigate roads filled with potholes. "Instead of doing things right they are trying to do it on the cheap," he added. "It is a slapdash approach and these figures prove it."

Last month this newspaper reported that compensation is paid out for pothole damage 10 times a week.

Between April 2012 and April 2015, DRD received 2,461 claims for vehicle damage caused by potholes. It settled 1,643 of these, although claims are not necessarily made and settled in the same year.

The highest number of settled claims (658) was in Transport NI's southern division, which includes parts of Tyrone and Armagh.

Mr McNarry said DRD had set aside £4m for compensation claims in the current year, but he questioned this strategy.

"I would much rather they put the £4m in to filling the holes properly, rather than setting it aside for the inevitable compensation," he added.

A TransportNI spokesman said: "While 2,665 out of almost 175,000 road openings over this period is a relatively small percentage, the cost of all repairs is met by the utility company responsible."

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