Port of Spain Corporation gets tough on Carnival 2010
Monday, October 5th 2009
Masqueraders who have grown accustomed to the convenience of "wee-wee trucks" will now have to rely on-or find-alternative accommodation for Carnival 2010.
The Port of Spain Corporation has given notice of two big changes for next year's Parade of the Bands-the first being that truck-borne portable toilets will no longer be allowed along the route and the other, that food provided by bands for masqueraders must be consumed within four hours of preparation.
The food must also be stored at specific temperatures-four degrees Celsius and under for cold and 40 degrees Celsius and over for hot-and this could affect the bands' abilities to provide the full all-inclusive fare that has become the norm.
The notice, which was sent two weeks ago to vice president of the National Carnival Bandleaders Association (NCBA), David Lopez, has been ill-received by several band leaders.
A lack of consultation with them emerged as a pet peeve and the NCBA's handling of the matter was regarded as "irresponsible" by Peter Reynald, secretary of the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF).
"I am surprised with the irresponsibility of the NCBA," Reynald said yesterday.
"There has been no meeting with bandleaders on this. Many bands have launched already and-the NCBA knows this-they would already have contractual obligations with caterers and so on. I am not against the public vendors but the corporation must treat fairly with everyone, they cannot just sweep through the bands with this."
Reynald said that although the bands, who provide an all inclusive package, have a schedule for providing food through the day, keeping to the new specifications can be difficult with traffic, the pace of the parade and the time taken by masqueraders to access the food.
He also expressed little faith in the corporation's ability to provide adequate toilet facilities.
"They have been failing to get that right years," Reynald said.
The rules being enforced by the Corporation are not new and are in keeping with the Public Health Ordinance, which was cited in the letter.
On "wee-wee trucks", the notice stated:
"Public Health Ordinance Chapter 12 No. 4 Section 70 (1) (b), specifies that 'any privy so foul or in such a state or so situated as to be a nuisance or injurious to health'...
"The present system employed by some bandleaders poses a health hazard and as such the practice of 'wee-wee trucks' should be discontinued. The alternatives for accommodation for masqueraders on Carnival days are the use of sites, to be determined by the Association in collaboration with the Local Health Authority (PoS Corporation), where 'portable toilets' can be situated."
Attached to the letter was the Health Ordinance provision for the sale of food, on which the Corporation stated:
"The system now being used in 'all-inclusive' bands where food is provided for masqueraders needs to be monitored to ensure compliance with all Public Health Regulations."
Speaking to the Express yesterday, a representative of Island People, one of the country's largest bands, said the newly enforced regulations regarding the collection of waste could negatively impact on the band's security policies for 2010.
Female masqueraders are considered particularly vulnerable and were the main reason that "wee-wee trucks" were created. Having to leave the band to use another facility, or to locate a private place on a public street, leaves these band members open to a number of dangers.
"Our new focus on 2010 is high security for band members," the Island People spokesperson said, adding that the band has no issue with regulations but wants to ensure proper alternatives.
"So we hope that the Port of Spain Corporation provides safe, well-lit and well-managed facilities along the route, otherwise, we would have to seek out alternatives.
"As for food, we have a distribution schedule where the service providers delivers throughout the day, so there is no food sitting from morning and being eaten in the evening. It may, however, be difficult to monitor exactly when food was prepared to stay strictly within the four-hour stipulation."
The head of another leading band welcomed the moves by the corporation.
"To be riding through the streets with urine and faeces for two days was an unhealthy practice and what would happen is that the bands behind these 'wee-wee' trucks would have to endure the stench," he said.
However, the Island People representative sought to clear up the notion that two days worth of waste was being transported in the trucks.
"No, no. There were clean-ups along the way and mostly, the trucks would actually be replaced for the next day," he said.
Stating that "the law is the law", the NCBA's David Lopez said his group expects to meet with the Port of Spain Corporation in the near future.
"This has always been the law," Lopez said.
"In the coming weeks, there will be notices from other bodies as well-such as licensing and the police and so on-and we expect to be having some meetings with the corporation soon."