Dáil Éireann - Volume 640 - 01 November, 2007

Written Answers. - Road Transport Operators.

Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport the operators who are registered as legal hauliers or registered as holders of the road transport operators licence; if the list is available on-line or in an electronic format; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26721/07]

  Deputy Noel Dempsey: As at 25 October 2007, there were 5,135 road haulage operators licensed by the Road Transport Operator Licensing Unit of my Department. The total number of vehicles authorized on those licences is 18,444.

Section 10 of the Road Transport Act 1986 provides for a register of road haulage operator licences to be kept and to be open for inspection by any person. The Road Transport Acts (Fees) Regulations 1994, S.I. No 141 of 1994, provides for a fee of €6.35 per hour for the inspection of that register, along with the same fee for a copy of an entry in the register. That register is available for inspection by any person in the offices of the Road Transport Operator Licensing Unit, Clonfert House, Bride Street, Loughrea, Co. Galway.

My Department had, until recently, published the register of road haulage operators, along with a similar register of licensed passenger transport operators, on the Department’s website. The register could be read by anyone who wished to check if the road haulage or road passenger transport operator they were considering contracting was appropriately licensed.

However, it emerged in May this year, following correspondence from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, that the publishing of the register on the Department’s website was not in accordance with the 1986 legislation providing for the register, or with data protection rules generally. Accordingly, my Department removed the register from the website immediately.

Officials in the Road Transport Operator Licensing Unit of my Department have been exploring with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner how this difficulty can best be remedied. It would appear that new legislation might be needed enable the register to be published on the website once more. My officials are looking at which legislation needs to amended, and will be writing to the Office of the Data Protection Commission soon to consult with them in that regard.

I can assure the Deputy that it is my intention, and that of my officials, that the appropriate information about licensed haulage and passenger transport operators will, as quickly as possible, be restored to my Department’s website, so [1668] that the general public will be able to ensure that operators they are considering contracting are fully and appropriately licensed.

I should clarify for the Deputy that any person wishing to engage either a road haulage or a road passenger transport operator should ensure that the operator they are engaging is properly licensed by asking to inspect the operator’s licence. In addition, every vehicle authorized for use on that licence will be listed in a schedule to the licence, and every such vehicle will also have a Transport Disc, which should be visible in the windscreen of the vehicle, which will have the registration number of the vehicle, along with the name of the operator and the period of validity of the licence. The Road Safety Authority has recently engaged in an advertising campaign to that effect, which my Department actively co-operated with.