Commercial vehicle movement on national highways recovered to near 90% of pre-COVID levels in July. However, the movement in passenger vehicles is yet to recover fully and is still hovering at 60% of their pre-COVID levels, a report from credit ratings agency ICRA said.

If the pace of recovery continues and holds, the year-on-year fall in toll collections can be limited to 10% and below, it said.

The unabated rise in COVID-19 infections in the unlock phase, localised re-imposition of lockdowns in several states, and heavy monsoons in many parts of the country had interrupted traffic recovery in the first fortnight of July but by the second half of the month, toll collections reached 87% of pre-COVID levels.

“Majority of the national highway stretches being arterial routes has 70-75% of toll collections from commercial vehicles; passenger vehicles account for less than a quarter of toll collections. While 90% of commercial vehicles are back on roads, the passenger vehicle movement is less than 60% of pre-COVID levels,” Rajeshwar Burla, Vice President, Corporate Ratings, ICRA said.

“Overall, the traffic in April-July has rebounded quite well, which is encouraging. This is also corroborated by the e-Way Bills generated. This pace of recovery, if sustained, the overall reduction in toll collections for national highway projects could be less than 10% in FY2021.”

The sample considered for ICRA’s analysis was spread across 11 states with Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Telangana accounting for 63% of the total sample. The localised lockdowns imposed in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra had adversely affected the toll collections for the stretches located in these states in July 2020 (reported 65-75% of pre covid levels). Excluding these stretches, the other entities in the sample reported around 90% of pre-covid collections in July 2020.


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