Broadcaster RTL Nieuws is claiming that transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen failed to tell parliament that motorised wagons known as stints had not undergone proper safety tests in 2011.
Stints have been banned from the Dutch roads since last year following a fatal accident in which a train ploughed into a wagon used by a school in Oss, killing four children.
The cause of the crash has never been established but stints have been banned from the roads since then, although moves are now underway to reinstate them.
According to RTL, transport minister officials who carried out tests on the vehicle in 2011 cleared it for use on the roads, even though it did not meet all the criteria to be classed as a ‘specialised moped’. In particular, the stint took too long to brake, and that was enough to have had it refused a licence, RTL said.
But now the broadcaster says the initial assessment was made on the basis of concept criteria which, it transpired later, were not based on facts. RTL says officials knew in spring 2011 that the assessment was faulty but nevertheless approved the vehicle for production in September 2011.
It was only a month later that officials came up with adapted criteria, including the correct guidelines for braking distance, but did not retest the vehicle. The broadcaster said the minister was aware that the vehicle had not been tested properly, but failed to disclose this fact to parliament when first asked.
At the end of last year it emerged that two road safety organisations had checked the electric wagons in 2011 and both said they had doubts about their safety. Nevertheless, both ministers and parliament decided to set their objections aside and press ahead with the introduction.
Some 3,500 wagons are thought to have been in use prior to the ban. As well as daycare centres, they were used by several delivery companies, including PostNL.
The minister told the AD on Wednesday afternoon that all the relevant documents had been sent to parliament.