Major probe into car test centres
Staff say faulty equipment 'poses a danger to public'
THE Department of Transport is to order an investigation into claims from NCT staff who allege there are "major problems" with equipment in test centres across the country, the Irish Independent has learned.
The inquiry follows a separate examination into the claims by road safety chiefs.
In an anonymous letter sent to board members of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), the testers claim incorrect results are being issued for cars.
The letter -- sent in January this year -- alleges that defective equipment could be posing a danger to the public.
"We are a concerned group of employees in the NCT centres in Dublin. There are major problems with the testing equipment in all the centres and incorrect results are being given to customers," the letter claims.
"We have complained to the managers, but they are afraid of head office and just trying to push as many cars through as possible. There is a real fear."
The letter advises that the testing system "needs to be stopped for a couple of weeks" so that experts can sort the situation out.
The complaints allege that trade cars that fail tests are retested on certain "reliable" lanes, making them more likely to pass if someone complains.
One of the problems highlighted by the concerned testers relates to brake examinations. They claim these tests can produce "any result" depending on the time a brake pedal is pushed or the handbrake is pulled.
The letter also alleges that AA Ireland auditors, who test the equipment for consistency, have been unable to get the same result on two lanes beside each other in centres.
In a statement, the RSA last night said it had carried out an independent investigation into the claims and found they were "without foundation".
Applus, the private company contracted to undertake the NCT, said it was still investigating the claims.
The company would not comment further, saying it was "limited" in what it could discuss.
However, the Department of Transport last night intervened with its own inquiry.
"We will be requesting the information given to the RSA board members and examining what facts can be established from there. We will then take the appropriate actions," a statement said.
"This Government takes very seriously the standards operating within the NCT sector and will be seeking to severely tighten the standards being operated by the NCT companies.
"We will be discussing the matter with the RSA at the earliest opportunity," the department added.
The authors of the letter also said their concerns had been raised with the AA.
The revelation regarding the department inquiry comes after RTE's 'Prime Time Investigates' programme this week revealed how unfit cars passed the NCT after €100 per car was paid to individuals.