Northern Ireland news

Potholes across rural Co Armagh are destroying my vehicles, businessman says

Martin Kelly reaches into one of the potholes on the Ballygassoon Road.
By Mairead Holland

AN Armagh businessman has hit out at the state of rural roads claiming he has noticed an increase in damage to his vehicles over the past two years.

His views are echoed by an SDLP councillor who says that in his 13 years as a local representative he has never seen the roads in a worse condition.

Martin Kelly, who is a funeral director and also runs a wheelchair taxi service, has 10 vehicles in total, six of which he needs to prepare for annual PSV testing.

"I have found this year and last year that when my vehicles go up for PSV there is a lot of damage underneath, which you're not even aware of at the time.

"It's much worse than in previous years and my repair bills are higher. I'm having to have more work done on things like suspension, shock absorbers and ball joints."

In one incident, he claimed he punctured two of his tyres after hitting a "massive" pothole.

"I have to get my vehicles tested every year in a government department to ensure they are fit for the road. But where is the comeback for the ordinary motorist - to make sure the road is fit for vehicles?" he said.

"Road tax is up, we pay the highest fuel bills in Europe and we have taxi enforcement officers doing spot checks. Where is all the revenue going? If ministers were in Stormont something could be done."

Councillor Thomas O'Hanlon said he receives an average of four complaints a day about potholes and also hands out claim forms on a daily basis.

One of the rural roads in Armagh that drivers have to negotiate

"Small rural and major trunk roads alike, they are in an appalling condition.

"The figures show that consistently over the last six years there has been a massive shortfall in the investment needed - £286 million less than the department said was actually needed.

"People are very frustrated. By the department's own admission, they now inspect roads less often.

'We have to put our cars through the MOT to make sure they are roadworthy, but the real question is, are our roads fit to take our cars?"

A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure said the department has been operating in a "challenging budgetary position" for some time but said that almost 40,000 surface defects have been repaired in the last few months.

"We are aware of the current problem with potholes across the road network and all available resources have been mobilised to address this issue as quickly as possible with resources being targeted towards the more heavily trafficked roads in the first instance," she said.

She added that the department’s 2018/2019 roads structural maintenance capital budget includes £15m for a roads recovery fund which will address areas of immediate need across the road network, including in the Armagh area.

Martin Kelly beside some of the potholes.


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