Toll op­er­a­tor Tran­sJa­maican sees grad­ual traf­fic re­cov­ery

Jamaica Gleaner - - FINANCIAL GLEANER - busi­ness@glean­erjm.com

TOLL COL­LEC­TIONS in June is up over May but still trail­ing last year, Tran­sJa­maican High­way Lim­ited said in a mar­ket fil­ing. The toll road op­er­a­tor ex­pects grad­ual re­cov­ery in busi­ness for the first half of the year, but pro­vided no out­look be­yond that. “The trend be­ing ob­served thus far for the month of June 2020, down 20 per cent when com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, con­firms a grad­ual re­cov­ery in traf­fic and is an­tic­i­pated to con­tinue through­out the month,” said Tran­sJa­maican in a no­tice posted on the Ja­maica Stock Ex­change. It ex­pects that for the first six months of 2020, there would be an over­all de­cline in busi­ness of “close to 20 per cent”, sub­ject to con­fir­ma­tion once the month has ended. Fore­casts for the sec­ond half of the year are dif­fi­cult at this time, stated the com­pany, due to the un­cer­tain­ties still hang­ing over the pace of eco­nomic re­cov­ery and the mea­sures that could again be taken to con­tain the coro­n­avirus. Gov­ern­ments fear a sec­ond wave of the virus as economies around the world be­gin phased re­open­ings. Prior to the COVID-19 out­break, ini­tial fore­casts for 2020 showed traf­fic growth of around 1.0 per cent over 2019, when Tran­sJa­maican recorded 24.2 mil­lion toll trans­ac­tions, or an av­er­age of 66,223 ve­hi­cles per day. In May, the com­pany re­leased its first earn­ings re­port since list­ing on the Ja­maica Stock Ex­change. Rev­enue for the quar­ter re­flected a mi­nor uptick to US$12.9 mil­lion com­pared to US$12.7 mil­lion for the same pe­riod in 2019, for which Tran­sJa­maican blamed “mea­sures im­ple­mented by the Government of Ja­maica in the fight against the COVID-19 pan­demic”. It recorded a net loss of US$1.5 mil­lion for the March quar­ter, com­pared to profit of US$1.58 mil­lion for the com­par­a­tive pe­riod in 2019. The first two months of this year were marked by a 2.1 per cent in­crease in toll trans­ac­tions. How­ever, COVID-19 con­tain­ment mea­sures “have been weigh­ing on our mo­tor­way traf­fic since midMarch 2020,” said the com­pany, which is headed by Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Thierry Pari­zot. Traf­fic for the month of March de­creased by 19.3 per cent fol­low­ing the clo­sure of schools, al- is­land cur­fews and the work­from-home or­der is­sued by the Government of Ja­maica for non-essen­tial work­ers, the toll road op­er­a­tor said. Traf­fic vol­umes fell even more in April, by 52 per cent, due to ad­di­tional virus-mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures, in­clud­ing the lock­down of the parish of St Cather­ine, which started on April 15. The end of this con­fine­ment on May 1 was im­me­di­ately fol­lowed by an in­crease in traf­fic on the mo­tor­way, as the de­cline ame­lio­rated to 34.2 per cent for that month. Tran­sJa­maican High­way op­er­ates the East-West sec­tion of High­way 2000, a 50-kilo­me­tre stretch of road that runs from King­ton to May Pen in Claren­don. The con­ces­sion con­tract, is­sued in 2001, spans 35 years. Tran­sJa­maican holds to­tal as­sets of US$329 mil­lion, in­clud­ing US$8.8 mil­lion in cash, and has a net worth of US$67.8 mil­lion. The com­pany listed at $1.41 per share, but is now trad­ing at $1.34.

FILE

Cars pass through the toll point at Port­more along High­way 2000.

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