The Podium

The Podium is NLEX Corp’s President and General Manager’s platform to discuss company status, plans, business strategies, and directions.

Arangkada NLEX as We Welcome the New Normal

by: J. Luigi Bautista

Welcome back!

Welcome back! is our greeting to our motorists as the economy opens up with the declaration of GCQ last June 01. We have been preparing for this. In fact, we desire to be an active participant and contributor to the Government’s intention to kickstart the economy and foster progress anew. In the same fashion, we will not let our customers down when they start using the expressways again because we are ready.

We were locked down, but never knocked down. We never stopped punching. We relentlessly fought back and slowly got our bearings back.

Things changed; Things never changed

We expect things to change because of the pandemic. On the other hand, I wish to remind everyone that things will remain the same. What do I mean? Confusing as it may seem but allow me to reiterate that the way we do things can drastically change but our mission and vision will definitely stay and remain true.

Our purpose and reason for existence will be the same, and these are very clear:

  • Mission – We bring good life to people, by enabling them to enjoy freedom of journey, and making every region accessible — through mobility infrastructure solutions.
  • Vision – We lead the Region in providing the ultimate mobility experience, through vital integrated infrastructure, powered by innovative technology, driven by our highly engaged people.
Business Recovery

When we talk of business recovery, we talk about our People as our first priority. We will take care of the well-being and safety of our employees because they are the backbone of our company. We know that a healthy workforce is key to sustaining our business, in every situation, rain or shine, with pandemic or not.

We will continue to focus on our Customers as well. Over the past 15 weeks, we promptly came up with programs to help shift and transition to a new norm of customer service. These programs highlight our push to improve the customer’s experience of travelling in our expressways.

We refurbished our toll facilities to promote safety and cleanliness, both for our front-liners and our motorists. Our motorists will feel more safe and protected because our front-liners have been equipped with the appropriate and even upgraded and above-standard PPEs. To add to the delightful experience is the upgraded and enhanced toll collection system that will be commissioned and felt by the motorists beginning July. Our Technology team has been working round-the-clock to make this happen.

On our customer value propositions – which goes by the acronym “CARS” (or short for convenience, asset quality, reliability and safety), we will continue to afford our motorists a convenient and reliable journey in our expressways – this will mean not just faster travel, but a safer and more convenient alternative as well. 

We are now focused on improving our digital payment channels, mainly RFID. A reliable and efficient RFID system is a “win-win” solution for us and for our motorists, especially as we aim to promote physical distancing and contactless transaction.  We have also strengthened our presence online through several social media platforms to communicate our programs.

In terms of safety and asset quality, we continued to pursue our rehabilitation and repair programs despite the quarantine. We made safety-related repair works in our expressways. In particular, we have started the major rehabilitation works for Candaba Viaduct and re-started our pavement repair program. Soon thereafter, the Pasig-Potrero Bridge foundation repair and other similar projects.

We have embarked on a very demanding construction work pace, a litmus test of our ability to hit our projected progress and therefore complete our projects on-time. This will be key in providing our Company with added financial flexibility and ensure that our growth trajectory will be back on track. The challenges we faced included not only the resumption of our projects, but also the streamlining of our Capex, the scaling down of our Toll Rate Adjustments, revising our Financing Plans, and strengthening our Non-Toll business.

We have three major projects in the pipeline – the C3/R10 Section, the NLEX Connector Road, and the SFEX Capacity Expansion. Despite the ECQ, we were able to proceed with essential construction activities.  This paved the way for the completion and opening of the C3/R10 section this month.

We hope to be able to do the same for the SFEX Capacity Expansion which we will complete by year-end.  In addition, while works on Section 1 of the Connector Project is on-going, we are also targeting to complete the bidding activities for Section 2 in the next couple of months.

As already mentioned, one critical activity is the implementation of toll rates this year. We are looking at effecting our toll rate adjustments within the third quarter. Depending on the attitude of the Grantor, being able to collect Php4.00 per entry increase in the NLEX Open System, and a Php0.06/km in the NLEX Closed System will surely help our business.

Again, we need to ensure our financial flexibility over the next several months. Our finance team is currently looking to raise up to Php20 billion to cover the financial requirements of the NLEX Connector Project. We are likewise preparing for our re-financing activity by the 1Q of 2021. To ensure our liquidity, we also need to see to it that short-term financing is available over the next several months. Parallel to that, we have to ensure that NLEX Ventures has ample capitalization to embark on its own expansion plans.

Our non-toll business is vital in diversifying our revenue sources. Thus, we would find ways to maximize the potential of our existing NLEX Drive & Dine facility by expanding in order to cater to more customers and other business prospects. In advertising, we are likewise looking to increase our client base and tap new firms who will advertise in our expressways.

Based on latest estimate,  we expect to finish 2020 with a 5.3B in Core Income. This is based on a revised budget of revenues at 13.5B and non-toll revenues of 227M. Given our circumstances, these targets are definitely a tall order. We will have to work hard and pray hard to attain these.

Vigilant and Disciplined

As part of the new ways, we will be more vigilant of our surroundings, disciplined in following protocols and compliant with guidelines. We set the highest standards of safety and health. We shall continue to follow all the protocols and guidelines set by the IATF, DOH, DOLE, DTI and DPWH. We will not leave anything to chance – our safety and well-being is top priority. This is the template for our new normal, from testing, to constant disinfection, to provision of living quarters, to physical distancing, and so on. These features are on top of the usual standards for undertaking construction projects, such as completing on time, within budget and with utmost regard to quality. From here on, safety, health and general hygiene and wellbeing are now part of the new normal and standards.

We Will Bounce Back

The foregoing is just what we needed as we begin the transition from lockdown or being homebound to an audacious rebound. We will bounce back; we can. It is just a question of how fast we can do it. I am confident that with our collective mind and effort towards the achievement of our goals, there is no doubt that we will be able get back on our bearings very soon. Why? Because we are made for this and the attitude of never giving up is well ingrained in our system. Kaya natin! Mapagtatagumpayan natin!

Sama-sama sa pag-arangkada ng NLEX!

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