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 mid-March 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 work-from-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.