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MoT crisis: 52 new lifts to be fully operational by July in Northern Ireland

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Nichola Mallon. Picture: Assembly Live

Nichola Mallon. Picture: Assembly Live

Nichola Mallon. Picture: Assembly Live

Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon has confirmed 52 lifts purchased following the cancellation of almost 43,000 MoT tests in Northern Ireland will be fully operational by mid-July.

However, temporary exemption certificates will likely have to be extended for some waiting for a test, the minister said.

Ms Mallon said the lifts were purchased "under an accelerated programme" and will be installed from April after a massive programme of cancellations caused chaos across Northern Ireland.

"It will have a continued impact on motorists" said the minister, who said she is also taking legal advice on how to extend the exemption certificates currently held by motorists from four to six months.

"We can extend them for a further two months. I have requested legal advice if it was necessary to give a further exemption," she said.

She said she has sought a detailed work programme on where and when lifts are being installed and how many motorists are being affected.

"What I'm continuing to do is to make sure I am going in detail through all of the options, so that whatever we need to do, we are prepared for and that I can communicate that to the public at the earliest opportunity," she said.

Ms Mallon said she is still waiting on an audit report on how the problems arose but that she had been in contact with the auditor about potential problems before purchasing the new lifts.

The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) purchased the lifts using £1.8 million of funds for new equipment held in reserve.

The Minister for Infrastructure said she will be implementing a more stringent lift inspection regime going forward.

"It wasn't the frequency that was the difficulty," she said. "I think for me the inspection regime was inadequate, going forward this needs to be much more robust."

"The frequency of the recycling and the replacement of machinery I will leave to experts," she said.

Julie Thompson, deputy secretary at the Department for Infrastructure, said the new lifts will be better equipped to deal with the frequency of their usage.

"There's been a change to the lift itself, additional layers have been put in place in the new models of the lift," she said.

Nichola Mallon said going forward her job was to "resolve this problem and to prevent this ever reoccurring."

Ms Mallon said she is still considering the introduction of test for vehicles every two years.

"I obviously will consider everything in the round before making any decision on this," she said.

Belfast Telegraph