The transport industry is worried about being hit in the pocket following yet another damning report on the NZ Transport Agency.
The long awaited review released on Wednesday said the agency had focused on building roads ahead of safety, and Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced $45m to boost the agency's regulatory work, along with changes to the way it would be funded in future.
Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett said those proposals, which included recovering a fairer proportion of costs from a wider group of road users, could see the a pendulum swing into over-regulation and more expense put on road users
"We're concerned that throwing more money into regulation will see investment in road maintenance suffer. "
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The industry already paid its share through road user charges, and any increase in costs for operators would be passed on to consumers and have an impact on the broader economy, Leggett said.
Motor Trade Association chief executive Craig Pomare was delighted to see more emphasis on vehicle safety, but he said prices for vehicle warrants and certificates of fitness may rise by about $5 as inspectors had to meet higher standards.
An agency crack down on inspections over the past year has led to more than 73,000 vehicles requiring WOF and COF rechecks, and the agency has estimated if may have to pay out a further $13.5m for rectification of non-compliant vehicles.
Pomare said it was madness that some inspecting organisations had no public liability insurance and he is pleased the agency board plans to tighten this requirement
The Ministry of Transport is responsible for monitoring the NZTA's performance and a review by consultants MartinJenkins was critical of the MOT's "light touch" oversight.
It said relationships between the MOT monitoring team and NZTA leadership were "quite fraught" and NZTA engaged in "obstructive tactics," vigorously challenging assessments, withholding information, or burying the monitor under a deluge of information.
In the past there had also been "significant pressure" to change monitoring reports going to the NZTA board and to "tone down" reports to the Minister.
Leggett said news of this was of huge concern, but he was confident the MOT and NZTA had "picked up the pieces."
The report also found that although it had improved in recent years, there had been a "challenging" relationship between the police and agency staff responsible for enforcing commercial vehicle safety regulations.
It said NZTA was concerned that police were not being held sufficiently accountable for the services they were required to deliver.
Agency staff commented that the police received about $320m in what was the largest government-funded contract for services, but not all the funding was being used for road policing activities.
Police, on the other hand, felt they were being pushed to do "volume work rather than impact work," and that quality was suffering under pressure to be more efficient.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford has asked officials to report back to him and the Minister of Police by December on opportunities to improve commercial vehicle enforcement.
Leggett said safety should always be a priority, but the emphasis should be on catching those who were "wilfully non-compliant," and the NZTA's archaic computer system made it difficult to interpret data and identify risks.
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The review said NZTA registers for motor vehicle registration, driver licensing, and road user charges were "near collapse" before an upgrade and there were still problems.
Warrant of fitness stickers were not tracked and it was possible to fraudulently register a vehicle as a farm vehicle and then change the class at the post office to a passenger vehicle.
There was no alert if someone who had lost their licence request an inspection for a vehicle they technically could not drive.
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