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Traffic returns to TransJamaican Highway as restrictions ease

Traffic on the TransJamaican Highway (TJH) network is showing signs of recovery, says managing director Thierry Parizot.

TransJamaican highway saw a 2.1 per cent increase in May over the similar period in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic had forced a reduction in traffic and impacted its revenues, the company previously disclosed in its financial statements for the March 2020 quarter.

However, May has shown definite signs of improvement, Parizot said in a Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) filing. TJH saw 2.1 per cent increase in toll transactions compared to the same period in 2019.

However, the impact of national measures taken to limit the spread of the virus has been weighing on motorway traffic since mid-March 2020, Perizot outlined.

“It is to be noted that the initial forecasts for 2020 showed traffic growth of around one per cent  compared to 2019 where the number of transactions were 24.2 million.”

– TransJamaican Highway Managing Director Thierry Parizot

The fall-off in traffic for the month of March was 19.3 per cent following the closure of schools, all-island curfews and the ‘work from home’ order issued by the Government of Jamaica for non-essential workers.

The month of April 2020 saw a significant decrease (-52 per cent when compared with April 2019) due to additional measures introduced such as the lockdown of the parish of St Catherine, which started on April 15.
Perizot said, “the end of this confinement on May 1 was immediately followed by an increase in traffic on the motorway, as the decline fell to 34.2 per cent when compared to May 2019.”

So far, he said, 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.”

The company is estimating that the overall decline for the first quarter of 2020 will also be close to 20 per cent, subject to confirmation once the month has ended.

Perizot cautioned, “However, given the uncertainties still hanging over the pace of economic recovery and the measures that could again be taken to stem the health crisis we are experiencing, it is difficult at this time to make a revised forecast for the second half of the current year.”

The decline for the first quarter is expected to be roughly 20 per cent.

He added, “It is to be noted that the initial forecasts for 2020 showed traffic growth of around one per cent  compared to 2019 where the number of transactions were 24.2 million (66,223 vehicles per day).”

TransJamaican Highway Ltd is the concession company that operates the East-West section of Highway 2000 (50 km from Kingston to May Pen and the Portmore causeway) through a concession agreement signed in 2001 for a 35-year period.

After the repurchase of TJH’s shares from its historic shareholders (notably the French companies Bouygues Travaux Publics and Vinci Concessions) by the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Ltd in December 2019, the company was listed on the JSE in March 2020.

As part of the refinancing of its former loans, secured notes for MUSD 225 were issued by the company at the beginning of this year, being rated B+ by S&P Global Ratings and BB- by Fitch Ratings.