OVER 5,700 defects have been recorded by the Department for Infrastructure on the roads of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area so far in the current financial year, it has emerged.

Last week, The Impartial Reporter ran a series of photographs featuring some of the worst potholes on Fermanagh’s roads.

Our Facebook page has been inundated with complaints about the state of the roads across the county, with many posts claiming that they were getting worse by the week.

The Department for Infrastructure, which has responsibility for maintaining the public road network, told the Impartial Reporter this week it does not keep statistics specifically in relation to the number of potholes, but rather on a range of surface defects.

These include potholes, cracks and depressions.

According to the Department’s figures for the 2017-18 financial year, a total of 5,736 defects have been recorded to date in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area.

Despite the overwhelming feeling expressed online that the number of potholes in Fermanagh were increasing, a DfI spokesperson said that the local figures were broadly in line with previous years and, perhaps even more surprisingly, “lower than the average” for all council areas in Northern Ireland.

The spokesperson said that DFI had put in place a set of Maintenance Standards for Safety and had an inspection programme to ensure that roads were in a “serviceable” condition.

“Inspection frequencies vary depending on the volume of traffic with response times specified for the repair of defects dependent on their severity,” the spokesperson said.

It is expected that around £3.4 million will be spent on road patching during the 2017-18 financial year in the DfI’s Western Division, which comprises the council areas of Fermanagh and Omagh, Derry City and Strabane, and Mid Ulster.

The total road patching budget across all four Divisions is around £9.8million.

Public safety remained a “key priority” for the Department, the spokesperson said.

“Despite a challenging budgetary situation, the Department has this year delivered a significant programme of resurfacing and surface dressing and continues to carry out a programme of routine maintenance, including pothole repairs and street lighting repairs, to meet all essential public safety requirements,” the spokesperson added.

These words will provide little comfort to motorists in Fermanagh, judging by the sheer volume of comments left on our Facebook page.

As one frustrated road user, Sean Flanagan, stated: “Killylacky Road and Golan road have several craters which are causing havoc and devastation to motorists. We all pay rates, road tax, income tax and national insurance but get very little in return when they can’t even fix a few potholes.”

Another local motorist, Leanna Martin, described how she damaged a wheel after hitting a pothole outside Tempo.

She added: “I also had my two small kids with me, rang Transport NI this morning to report it and was told it had been reported a couple of weeks ago. The pothole was 3 feet long and 7 inches deep!”

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that almost £500,000 has been paid out in compensation payments to motorists in Northern Ireland whose vehicles were damaged by potholes and other road defects in the past two years.

The figures, from the DfI, were released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

They confirm that between January 1, 2016 and November 30, 2017, a total of 1,935 vehicle damage claims concluded.

Compensation payments totalled £495,358.04.