IMPACT has rejected claims that the local authority driver licence service was characterised by long delays. The claim was made by a Road Safety Authority (RSA) spokesperson in a radio interview, in which he tried to deflect criticism from the RSA after it took over the service this week.
IMPACT national secretary Peter Nolan said local authorities had provided an excellent service prior to the transfer. He said the RSA had greatly exaggerated the length of any delays which, in any case, were mainly caused by additional work associated with the transfer.
In information leaflets produced for IMPACT members to distribute to the public, the union explained that the service was likely to be worse after the transfer. The union says the centralisation of driving licence renewals and applications will mean a worse service with more inconvenience for people trying to apply for, or renew, a driving licence.
Since the changeover, it is no longer possible to make a written application for a licence. Members of the public have to go in person to a National Driver Licence Centre (NDLS) to apply for or renew a licence. This is because the new system requires a digital photograph to be taken at the centre. The RSA admits that drivers will now have to travel up to 50 kilometres – sometimes further – to get a licence.
Despite opposing the move, staff fully cooperated with the establishment of the new system because they wanted to minimise any inconvenience to the public. But, from the outset, IMPACT members have been concerned that centralising a local and efficient service is bad news for motorists.