Mechanics take NZTA to court over licence suspensions

At least nine mechanics and a courier company are taking the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to court.

They are challenging the NZTA decisions to cancel or suspend their licences during a crackdown on vehicle safety.

It comes as the agency has apologised to one vehicle inspector, after incorrectly stating he'd had his licence revoked. 

Abnesh Chand, a vehicle inspector for the AA, says the NZTA senior auditors also made basic errors when they visited his workshop to re-check a vehicle.

It's been a long battle to clear his name and Chand has 20 months of documents to show for his efforts so far.

After being told he was under investigation, the NZTA published his name on its website saying he'd lost his licence. 

"It was very shocking, very shocking to hear that my licence has been revoked, which never happened," says Chand.

NZTA told Newshub that "this was immediately corrected" and "the agency apologised to Mr Chand."

But Chand says the apology is not good enough.

"It will not actually fix the damages they have caused. The main thing I am concerned about is my reputation," he says. 

The agency did, however, suspend Chand's licence - for giving a Nissan Note a warrant before its front bumper had been replaced. 

But Chand says while it was issued, the warrant was never affixed to the car, the sticker was locked away, and the car never left the workshop. 

"It was not on the road. It was not a safety issue," says Chand.

He says when NZTA auditors then inspected the vehicle, they made basic errors, including setting up the headlight testing machine on an uneven surface. 

"They didn't have proper knowledge to use the equipment," he says.

The auditors also argued that marks on the car showed previous damage, but Chand says the marks were factory joins. 

Even a Nissan dealer and VTNZ gave the car the all-clear. 

When asked if the auditors made mistakes, the agency didn't answer the question, except to say it stood by its decision to suspend Chand's licence based on evidence of non-compliant processes.

The agency then recalled 31 of his vehicles. 

"I would say that they actually bullied me," says Chand.

Official Information reveals that of the 18 cars re-checked, 16 passed; the two that didn't had minor wiper or light issues. 

"A lot of people feel like they're being suffocated out of the industry," transport lawyer Shafraz Khan.

Khan says he's representing nine different clients, all of whom are challenging NZTA's decisions in court. 

"I think there are a lot of people who are ready to up tools, saying it is becoming too difficult to operate in the environment."

He says some believe the standards they're expected to meet are simply unrealistic. 

As for Chand, he's back at work, but also considering taking legal action against the NZTA.

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