Road service travel costs near £13m
Roads Service staff have clocked-up nearly £13 million in travel expenses over the last five years, it has emerged.
The SDLP's John Dallat obtained the £12,952,784 figure in an Assembly question and claimed the amount would shock anyone currently battling through icy conditions.
But while it is understood the expenses relate in large part to staff's daily work travelling to inspect and plan road projects, the East Derry MLA said he was surprised at the sum.
Mr Dallat said Conor Murphy's Department of Regional Development had to pay the expenses, which the SDLP representative said in the last year alone totalled £2,515,532.
"These shocking figures do not include mileage claims for overtime as I was told that the cost of providing this would be at disproportionate cost," he said.
Mr Dallat added: "The figures exclude all claims for industrial staff, which were moved from the Department to HR Connect in 2009/10 and are no longer easily identifiable. The real figure is therefore likely to be considerably higher than the one mentioned in response to my question.
"There is a serious need to monitor closely travel costs within Roads Service to eliminate any unnecessary travel and I am sure I will find a lot of support for this, particularly from the thousands of people who are currently struggling to keep their feet on footpaths that have not been gritted."
A Department of Regional Development (DRD) spokeswoman said the costs had remained largely constant, despite an increase in major roads projects which staff have to monitor.
"Travel claims in Roads Service relate almost entirely to Roads Service engineering staff going out on site to inspect work for capital and road improvement schemes, the supervision of road construction and maintenance schemes, to carry out essential safety inspections and site meetings with MLAs and elected representatives," she said.
"The average cost of travel per annum has remained relatively constant over the last five years, even given the much-increased levels of maintenance work and capital investment carried out by Roads Service over the same period."