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Privatised Driving Tests To End In Thurles Next Month

learner-driversPrivatised driving tests will no longer be provided by SGS Ireland Ltd in Thurles from next month.  SGS Ireland are part of the Swiss-based multinational SGS and provides this national driver testing service through its subsidiary, National Car Testing Service Ltd (NCTS).

SGS Ireland Ltd have confirmed that the company will cease driver testing in Thurles from April 10th, but were unable to comment further. It is believed that strong opposition from unions representing tester staff employed by the State may be partly responsible for this decision. SGS currently employs 26 trained driving testers on a contract basis and these employees are expected to be laid off.

This decision by SGS, to end the service undertaken on behalf of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) comes just months into an agreement in which the private company was to carry out up to 70,000 tests this year.

The absence of a private testing company to meet the vast hike in demand for learner driver testing, now places the RSA and the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, under pressure to maintain their commitment, last year, to the average waiting time of 10 weeks or less for any individual waiting to undergo a driving test in the State.

The present waiting time for this test is around 10 weeks and from the start of February there were estimated to be 53,500 persons waiting to undertake their driving test.

In March of this year the average waiting time for a driving test was approximately 9.5 weeks, however centres at Tallaght, Co.Dublin showed a waiting time of  17 weeks, while Thurles and Nenagh,Co.Tipperary, showed an average waiting time of 14 weeks and are thus well over this 10 week target.

The RSA is now expected to seek a replacement company to provide for additional driving tests and further delays can be expected due to the necessary time required to train new staff to undertake this work.

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