The open space between the Rainbow Towers and Interpol Regional Headquarters in Harare has been turned into a driving schools’ training ground. Vehicles, ranging from small cars to large lorries can be seen trundling back and forth and negotiating restricted parking bays as people are taught how to drive. Instructors pace up and down and shout commands as they monitor the learners’ maneuvours.
Driving Instructor Ezekiel Bara said they used to train at the corner Hebert Chitepo and Fifth Street for years, but they were moved to the parking space adjacent to the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences building – the place he believes to have been reserved for visitors to the museum or for staff parking, before they were moved on to the current place by council.
He added that the new place is spacious compared to the one near the museum and that if given a choice he would prefer this area to the previous space. “At this place learners have ample acres of space, and accidents or near misses are now a thing of the past,” he added.
Another driving trainer, Instructor Phanuel Rwafa of Top Tech Driving School, said that if Council is going to give them this place as their training ground they should construct proper facilities such as toilets, tarred surfaces, and road markings, as well as erecting lamp posts. “Most of our clients go to work during the day and come for lessons either early in the morning or late in the evening so flood lights are essential,” he said. He added that they pay for driving school licences, and he believes the money should go towards the construction and maintenance of suitable ranks.
According to him the fees, paid every four months, are $50 for small cars, and $100 for lorries. Other trainers also confirmed the price to Harare News, adding that they last paid the fee while at the training ground near the museum, since they had only been at the new place for a few months. Rwafa also proposed that council should fence the area and increase its revenue base by charging a $1 entrance fee.
John Gore, a learner driver, said; “Proper facilities should be put in place if this area is going be turned into a fully-fledged training rank.” But he professed ignorance about council’s position concerning the area, as both trainers and trainees alike are speculating about whether the place is to be permanent.
When this paper visited the area the open space was full of cars and lorries from driving schools that included: Noddy’s; Maungwe, Way Ahead; Broadway; MacNally; Midway; Estate; Top Tech; Kuedza, Legend; Platinum; Chifamba; and Chanten driving schools among others.
There are other notable places where driving schools use open spaces as their training grounds. Along Samora Machel Avenue (Eastlea) there is a lorry drivers’ training ground near the Tendeseka Office Park complex, and another one for small cars at side road near Galactica Sports Bar along Chiremba Road in Braeside. Here you can even see family members teaching one another how to drive – a sort of acclimatisation with the road rules and regulations before going to driving schools.
Since the adoption of the US dollar in 2009, the country has witnessed an influx in the importation of both new and pre-owned vehicles, hence the rise in people seeking training and the need for ranks for that purpose in the city.
Harare News tried to establish with the City of Harare whether there is any place in the city reserved for driving schools’ training, considering that they charge for driving schools rank licence discs. However comment was unforthcoming at the time of going to press.