Essential vehicles 'can't move because of loophole in certification process'

When vehicles need to be modified, they require IVA certification, which isn't happening in Northern Ireland right now
Gary McDonald Business Editor

DOZENS of commercial vehicles essential to the health and food distribution sectors in the north are currently off the road and idle because of a loophole over their certification.

Special purpose vehicles such as those designed to hold wheelchairs, or goods vehicles which have been modified to have, for example, a refrigeration unit added, require an IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) certificate.

But inspections for IVAs are normally carried out at MOT centres, which have been closed in Northern Ireland since March 23.

And the impact is hitting vehicle manufacturers, dealerships and also the end users who rely on them for vital tasks.

It has prompted both the Freight Transport Association and Manufacturing NI to write to Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon urging her to close the loophole after it emerged that five separate health trusts alone have more than 20 vehicles unable to move because of the problem.

FTA regional head Seamus Leheny said his members appreciated the minister's moves to facilitate drivers hours relaxations and also granting temporary exemption certificates for MOTs.

But the closure of MOT centres has affected IVA inspections, and he cited one firm in Tyrone which currently has almost 300 workers at risk of redundancy, many of which could be saved if production and delivery can restart as soon as possible.

“With no inspections taking place, it is affecting the cash flow of those manufacturers and dealerships who, without IVA, are unable to complete commercial sales at this already difficult time for businesses,” he said.

“We are asking that IVA testing at selected test centres should resume as soon as possible, while complying with all Covid-19 safety guidance, or that remote assessment procedures can be introduced for vehicles currently awaiting IVA.”

A spokesman for the Department for Infrastructure told the Irish News: “We understand the suspension of IVA testing is having an impact on manufacturers and businesses, and on the delivery of essential services.

“We are urgently considering options on how to potentially reinstate this service, taking account of current guidance on social distancing, to ensure the safety of staff and customers during the testing process.

“We will endeavour to reinstate this service at the earliest opportunity, when it is safe to do so.”

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