WCE’s Raya traffic beats target


WCE Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Lyndon Alfred Felix.

PETALING JAYA: The West Coast Expressway’s traffic volume during the Hari Raya travel period was more than double of its initial estimate, as travellers chose the highway as an alternative route heading to and from the north.

WCE Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Lyndon Alfred Felix said the average daily traffic (ADT) was recorded at over 300,000 vehicles from April 11 to 14.

“The highest ADT was on April 13 when it crossed 350,000 vehicles. Meanwhile, the highest revenue per day achieved was more than RM600,000,” he told StarBiz.

WCE, the concessionaire of the West Coast Expressway, had initially expected an ADT of just 150,000 vehicles per day for the Hari Raya travel period.

Felix said the opening of Section 11 of the West Coast Expressway last month has provided a major boost to the traffic volume, beating expectations.

It is noteworthy that Section 11 offers a direct connection from the North-South Expressway.

“With the direct connection, this section opened up the access to medium to long-haul traffic for the highway, as compared to predominantly short-haul and localised traffic previously.”

The 233km West Coast Expressway runs from Banting, Selangor, and ends at the ramp of Changkat Jering toll plaza of the North-South Expressway at Taiping, Perak.

“Basically, the high traffic numbers reinforces our expectation that Section 11 will be one of the most important sections for the West Coast Expressway.

“It was good that we successfully opened before Hari Raya and this gave us an opportunity to test the potential of the highway.

“General feedback from the ground too was quite positive as most road users felt that West Coast Expressway was a good and viable alternative to existing highways in the country,” said Felix.

Felix also shared that Sections 1 and 2 of the West Coast Expressway are expected to be opened by June this year.

Section 1 connects Banting, Selangor, to the South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE), while Section 2 connects SKVE to the Shah Alam Expressway or Kesas.

“Companies in the industrial areas in Banting will benefit from the opening of Sections 1 and 2, as it provides faster connectivity to Port Klang.”

It is noteworthy that close to Section 1 in Banting lies some of the world’s largest paper manufacturing and recycling factories such as Nine Dragons Paper, Jingxing Holdings (M) Co Ltd and Best Eternity Recycle Technology Sdn Bhd.

Based on the website of the West Coast Expressway, the 11km Section 1 is 99% completed. On the other hand, the 7.2km Section 2 is 98% completed.

Out of the total 11 sections, six have been opened to the public.

Felix also asked to comment about Perak’s proposal to build a new highway linking Tanjung Malim and Lumut.

In response, he said the new highway – if implemented – will benefit the West Coast Expressway as vehicles can access the latter from Lumut and eventually, connect to the North-South Expressway via Taiping.

“Generally we believe that any new highways will have a complementary effect on existing highways.

“As such, the proposed new highway should have a positive impact on the West Coast Expressway in terms of feeding additional traffic,” he said.

Earlier this week, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said the proposed highway was needed to facilitate export logistics services through the Lumut Maritime Industrial City when the High Technology Automotive Valley project in Tanjung Malim starts operating.

The Finance Ministry has registered a proposal for the new highway, which Saarani said was a follow-up to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s recent visit to Perak.

“We understand that the Finance Ministry has registered the highway as a priority project and the Economic Planning Unit will study its implementation,” according to Saarani.

Meanwhile, Felix noted that WCE’s financials have been improving in line with the opening of more sections of the West Coast Expressway.

In the first nine months of the financial year ending March 31, 2024 (9M24), the highway’s toll collection hit a new high at RM39.9mil, or 23% higher year-on-year (y-o-y).

The higher toll collection, coupled with the increased construction work activities under the toll concession segment, lifted the group’s total revenue by nearly 40% y-o-y to RM524.2mil in 9M24.

WCE reported an operating profit of RM24.59mil, which increased by more than four-fold than the previous corresponding period.

However, the group registered a net loss of RM72.98mil in the nine-month period, mainly due to the interest cost for completed sections of RM114.2mil.

In addition, net loss was also attributable to cessation of share of results from associates upon the completion of disposal in the previous financial year.

“While the group anticipates initial losses in the early years of toll operations due to the cessation of interest expenses capitalisation for completed sections, the staggered opening of the remaining sections is expected to boost sectional toll revenue and is poised to improve the group’s future financial performance positively in term of cash flows and operating results,” WCE said in an earlier statement.

With a market capitalisation of RM2.73bil, WCE is currently the fourth-largest listed construction company on Bursa Malaysia.

The stock rose by 5.17% yesterday, closing at 91.5 sen. About 6.5 million shares changed hands.

WCE is 26.65% owned by conglomerate IJM Corp Bhd.

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