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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Parade route stays east-west Prakash: In the interest of mas

CARNIVAL STAKEHOLDERS MEET: Acting Prime Minister Prakash Ramadhar, right, National Security Minister Gary Griffith, second from right, and public engagement officer Lisa Ghany at Thursday’s meeting with bandleaders at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair Avenue, St Clair. From left are TTCBA president Gerard Weekes, Michael “Big Mike” Antoine and NCDF chairman Mahindra Satram-Maharaj. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK
Carnival stakeholders have accepted  the decision by acting Prime Minister Prakash Ramadhar to keep the Carnival parade route as is—in an east-to-west direction through the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain—in the interest of the mas.
On Thursday night, the National Carnival Commission (NCC), the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bandleaders’ Association (TTCBA), and the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) met with acting PM Ramadhar for close to five hours at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair to discuss the parade route.
Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas and Minister of National Security Gary Griffith were also in attendance. 
The organisations proposed that, given the congestion experienced along the east-to-west route in past years, a west-to-east direction of the parade would make for an easier flow of bands. 
“We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result...that is a sign of madness,” David Lopez, head of the NCBA, told the Express yesterday.
He said in his organisation’s consultations, issues such as the bottle neck at Piccadilly Street, Park Street and Charlotte Street; and the impact of the loud music on newborn babies at Port of Spain General Hospital  from the trucks accompanying the bands were some of the things that were taken into consideration.
“While we have room to challenge the Minister’s decision, we believe that as a responsible organisation the bigger picture is Trinidad Carnival and not ego.
“We don’t want to take away from the mood of the Carnival so we continue our work. Carnival is more important,” said Lopez.
NCC chairman Allison Demas said her organisation will continue to work towards its objective of reducing congestion on the parade of the bands route on Carnival Monday and particularly Tuesday.
“We want to ensure that masqueraders are able to move freely through the streets of Port of Spain and that specatators get to view the mas from strategic vantage points.” 
Minister Douglas said the proposal  from the NCC to move bands clockwise into the Queen’s Park Savannah has been deferred to Carnival celebrations in 2015 due to limited time for its successful implementation. 
Asked about the resolution, Douglas said: “The situation is resolved after an extensive discussion with acting Prime Minister Prakash Ramadhar and the bandleaders. When you consider  the new position it would discommode the bandleaders who had already worked out their logistics. Too many bandleaders had already put the logistics in place as to which route they will be taking. Even though it was a great idea and we have begun collecting the data, we will have to defer it to post-Carnival. We will look at implementing it for Carnival 2015. The plan is to think about a long-term solution.
“We have arrived at a decision that the bandleaders will use the same route as usual. We feel we could add alternative pieces to the route. Bands that feel the need to compete might find an alternative route and those who don’t wish to compete could find another option for the Carnival,” he added.

By Essiba Small and Michelle Loubon 

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