No reprieve for late night toll road users
Representatives of the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROC) were brought to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament Tuesday, following three major concerns about the entity's liquidity and financial viability highlighted in an audit by the Auditor General's Department.
Key findings and concerns of the audit include: consistent net losses, except for the financial year 2011-2012; significantly weak solvency position, though short-term liquidity position was fair; and continually negative equity, indicating that the entity is overleveraged.
But even as PAC members examined NROC's precarious financial position and its business model and plans, it emerged that the operators were reluctant to offer lower rates for late-night road users to encourage greater volume. Committee member Fitz Jackson asked if there was any movement by the operators to offer discounts.
"Portmore toll. Late nights. Low volume periods. The rates are just the same. No incentives to look at, that can earn more revenue," he said, not leaving out "the other toll, the Vineyards through to May Pen".
"You guys have been adamant that you will keep the highway empty during those periods rather than earn revenue at lower rates that will boost your overall income," said Jackson.
EASING MANDELA TRAFFIC
He said that much of the Mandela Highway traffic could be alleviated if a lower rate was offered to motorists during those periods. He challenged NROC to even test the model for a time
"Mr Chairman, that is something that we will renew with the toll operator and it's something we have been discussing, but that's obviously the operator's decision. It's in his best interest as well to maximise his revenues. But as we have discussed many times, a reduction in tolls is only beneficial to the extent that the revenues increase faster than the toll reduction percentage," said Anderson.