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Gardai face transport crisis as fleet loses a car every day

GARDAI are facing a national transport crisis as their fleet loses a car a day.

Senior managers admit that 250 cars are needed immediately to meet the current demand.

But plans are in place to buy only 80 new vehicles.

A cash shortage is preventing gardai from substantially replacing the cars that are either crashed or taken off the road when they reach a maximum mileage of 300,000km.

The cost of running the fleet is €2m a month but the projected spend for this year is only €20m.

In an effort to provide more cars, the authorities are trying to remove body parts from cars before they are scrapped. They hope this will make €250,000 a year in savings.

An officer said: "A replacement door for a Ford Mondeo costs about €1,000 but by reusing parts it will be done for €400."

A large portion of the fleet is more than four years old with high mileages.

Cars are being loaned out temporarily from the cities and major towns to meet the needs of more rural areas while in some areas gardai are borrowing patrol cars from other districts in the county to fill the gaps.

A rural-based officer said: "We are at our wit's end in this area. Members have now reached the position where they will think carefully before taking out a patrol car as they don't want to clock up the mileage and lose the car completely if it reaches the maximum."

In Kerry division gardai said they were faced with the loss of a third of their patrol cars.

The garda fleet last year fell from 2,740 to around 2,650, despite the purchase of 150 new vehicles at the start of the year. The attrition rate is now running at a rate of a car a day.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said the critical lack of transport was causing its members extreme stress and anxiety.

The Garda Representative Association said transport was a primary operational tool for a police force -- and it had become a disaster.

Irish Independent