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VRT stations want to charge more

VRT operators complain over lack of inspectors

VRT station owners want to raise the price of the vehicle road-worthiness test to €35 from the current €20.27, to make up for higher costs such as wages and electricity.

The price was established by the government 11 years ago when the test was first introduced and has remained the same since, although €1.40 in administration charges paid by the station owners was waived a couple of years ago.

The VRT section within the Malta Chamber for Small and Medium Enterprises – GRTU is now lobbying for a rise in the VRT price, citing the higher costs of labour and electricity as well as the hefty expense of maintaining their equipment. The current test fee, the section holds, does not even cover costs.

Sources said the section is in the process of commissioning an audit company to verify the running costs incurred by VRT stations to provide the service.

A number of VRT station owners told The Times they have operated at a loss ever since the test was introduced because the fee did not take all the variables into consideration.

“We have always operated at a loss – €20.27 does not justify the time it takes to carry out one test and the investment we made in the first place. We cannot continue to operate at a loss year in, year out,” one VRT operator said.

Apart from having to make up for the initial investment in the machinery and wages for staff who carry out the tests, the stations’ electricity bills have shot up by 30 per cent.

Moreover, they said, their costs to maintain the VRT equipment working at optimum levels were on the rise, not only when it came to replacement parts but also to pay for the services of technicians and engineers.

A couple of years ago, when the operators had lobbied to increase the fee, the ADT (now Transport Malta) had agreed to waive most of the administration charges, giving them a €1.40 reduction.

The VRT was introduced in 1999 with the aim of getting rundown and unsafe cars removed from the roads. Over the years it has grown more stringent, with aspects like suspension systems and emissions now also being tested.

Some VRT operators have on a number of occasions expressed their disappointment at the lack of enforcement in the light of abuses committed by others, saying there were not enough inspectors to go round.

Just last month, 60-year-old Carmel Chircop from Msida was conditionally discharged for two years after he pleaded guilty to ordering people to issue false VRT certificates for cars that had not even been tested.

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