File Photo /Highway
File Photo /Highway

Toll collections have witnessed a marked improvement on the back of an increased movement of both passenger and commercial vehicles, which picked up significantly over the last three months thereby surpassing the pre-COVID-19 levels, rating agency Icra said on Tuesday.

The government's step by step unlocking measures and relaxations, starting Unlock 3.0 from August onwards has been the inflexion point for toll collections, it said.

"Further, in Unlock 4.0 the states could no longer impose lockdowns and border sealing was not permitted. This along with festive season supported the growth in toll collections, peaking at 16 per cent on y-o-y basis in October 2020 implying a traffic growth of around 12 per cent. In November, the toll collections have further witnessed a 10 per cent y-o-y growth which has sustained in the first week of December 2020," Icra said in a statement.

Rajeshwar Burla, Vice President, Corporate Ratings, Icra said fear of COVID-19 along with limited availability of public transport has led to steady and significant increase in passenger vehicular movement on roads.

In addition, the sharp pickup in the manufacturing and construction sectors contributed to healthy rise in commercial vehicular movement.

"On average, the increase in toll collections in September-November 2020 stood at around 13 per cent implying a growth in traffic of 8-9 per cent in terms of passenger car units; one-third of this growth is contributed by passenger vehicle category and remaining from commercial vehicles. With this sustained improvement, the overall reduction in toll collections for national highway projects could be in the range of 5-7 per cent in FY2021 narrower than previous forecast of 10 per cent de-growth," Burla said.

The sample considered for the analysis was taken from 11 states with Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Telangana accounting for 63 per cent of the total sample, the statement said.

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Free Press Journal