THE Bulawayo City Council requested a top-up fee of US$500 to complete work at the Highlanders clubhouse training grounds in addition to the $380 000 in local currency paid for the project, which was later stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic, B-Metro Sport can reveal.
The initial payment of $380 000 was made by the former Highlanders boss Kenneth Mhlophe-led executive, in February 2020.
Work commenced a short while after the payment was made but the project suffered a major setback when a blanket national lockdown was imposed by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A couple of months later when the lockdown was gradually eased by the authorities, allowing non-critical workers to return to work, Bosso requested the BCC to start work on the project and that is when the top-up fee issue was raised by the city council’s nursery department, a source briefed this publication.
“The previous executive was shocked that the BCC nursery department was demanding US$500 in addition to the initial amount that was paid for the full completion of the training grounds project. Like any other institution Highlanders works on a budget and expecting the club to pay an extra US$500, which was unbudgeted, was a bit unfair.
“The BCC nursery department argued that the $380 000 had been eroded by inflation thus they wanted an extra US$500 to start work on the project,” said the source.
The Bosso executive intended to rent out one of the grounds to social soccer teams that use the clubhouse as their home to raise money for maintaining the facility.
Before the 2020 lockdown, Highlanders’ first team used White City Stadium’s B-arena where they paid about $220 per session as their training base and held two sessions a day during the pre-season.
There are three training fields at the Highlanders clubhouse. After completion, one field was expected to be reserved for the first team, with the junior teams using the other two fields for their training sessions and home games.
Besides saving on ground rentals for training for the senior team, the facility would improve their junior development programmes, as players would be exposed to playing on lawn at a tender age.
The BCC spokesperson Nessisa Mpofu was unavailable for comment.