A TOTAL of £18k was paid out to drivers for damage caused to their cars by potholes on Fermanagh’s roads last year.
With that total including only those who took a damage claim against the Department of Infrastructure, it is likely to be a fraction of the actual number of cars damaged.
The number of vehicle damage claims lodged with the Department of Infrastructure in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) area fell from 23,000 during 2012/13 to some 12,500 during 2016/17. However, the amount claimed over the same period has remained static at just under £18k per annum.
That’s according to divisional roads manager, Conor Loughrey, who was responding to concerns from councillors that damage caused to vehicles by potholes, which are being caused by Department budgetary constraints, were costing more than simply fixing the road would.
In a letter to FODC, which chief executive Brendan Hegarty said was “bleak reading” and “disappointing”, Mr Loughery said the Department’s budget for activities such as “patching” repairs was currently under pressure and being challenged by current circumstances.
As such, only the highest priority defects would be fixed.
“The priority a defect receives is determined by a number of factors such as defect depth, volume of traffic and defect location in relation to the carriageway width,” Mr Loughrey explained, stating the Department would continue to monitor safety-related defects “as far as resources permit.”
He added: “Repairs to lower priority defects will depend on additional funding being made available to the Department through in-year monitoring rounds.”
Mr Loughrey said figures showed the cost of compensating drivers was much less than the money spent repairing roads. While no local figures were available, he said last year in the Western Division the cost of vehicle damage claims was £78,500 last year, compared to £3.9 million spent patching roads in the same area.
“I do appreciate that the reduced maintenance regime does increase the ‘wear and tear’ on vehicles but what this demonstrates is that the Department is right to prioritise and repair those defects most likely to cause damage by targeting the scarce patching budget towards the repair of defects on roads with highest traffic volumes and vehicle speeds,” he said.
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