Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
PLAGUED with neglect when its primary use as a sporting facility was temporarily abandoned due to Covid-19 induced lockdowns, driving schools in Bulawayo have lately turned Eveline High School sports grounds into an open space for conducting driving lessons.
Heavy vehicles belonging to driving schools continue to damage the sports field. The driving schools are, however, claiming they have a lease agreement with school authorities to use the ground.
They allegedly collectively pay US$300 per month. A Chronicle news crew observed that the ground is also being used by people, particularly motorists, as a love nest as evidenced by the disposal of used condoms.
Due to its proximity to the neglected Centenary Park, the sporting facility is also a haven for criminals and the homeless who defecate in the grounds.
Zimbabwe Driving School Owners Association (ZDSOA) vice-president Mr Edwin Ndlovu who runs Gracious Driving School in Bulawayo, said they had a binding agreement with Eveline High School authorities to temporarily use the ground.
“We have an agreement with Eveline High School to use their ground to conduct driving lessons for our learner drivers and we are paying US$300 per month.
The school is extremely worried about illicit activities happening at their sports ground and that money will go towards erecting a palisade fence,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said they have since engaged council to secure land where they will be conducting driving lessons.
“We have applied to council for land and once we secure our own permanent place, we will relocate. In fact, you also have people engaging in illegal activities at the ground and social clubs also use the ground without permission hence the money we are paying to the school will help in addressing those challenges,” he said.
Bulawayo provincial deputy education director Mr Thabani Sibanda said they are yet to establish what the contract between the school and driving schools entails.
“The school head has indicated to us that they have agreed with the driving schools to use the ground in return for palisade walling around the field.
But as a ministry, we have since summoned the head to the provincial offices so that we get to see the contract and establish the exact arrangement between the two parties,” he said.
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) corporate communications manager Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said driving schools have a running lease with the local authority for a stand in Umvumila industrial area, which is situated near the United College of Education.
“The driving schools are known to have invaded open spaces and have been advised time and again to respect the respective property rights. At Eveline High School grounds, they claim to be in discussion with the relevant authorities and council is seized with this particular matter,” she said.
“Driving schools also pay appropriate fees to council and are free to rent space from us for reversing and manoeuvring practice.”
Driving schools are regulated by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development through the Department of Road Motor Transportation and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ). – @mashnets.
Article Source: The Chronicle