“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
The National Carnival Commission (NCC) soon may find itself in the middle of a battle over the new parade route for this year’s Carnival celebrations, despite having assured that bandleaders had reached consensus on the plan. Last week, the NCC released a statement saying that after discussions on the benefits of the new plan from Dereck Hamilton of C&H Associates, bandleaders had agreed it was worthwhile to attempt a solution rather than continue to “squabble about the statusquo.”
The new plan, which proposes to change the flow of the parade from an anti-clockwise direction to a clockwise direction on the big stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, is not being welcomed by all bandleaders. Some bandleaders plan to meet this week to discuss ways of fighting the new proposal, which they believe could do more harm than good. Paul Singh, Dream Team bandleader, is convinced the change would lead to chaos on the road.
In an interview yesterday, he said he could not agree with the new route. Singh said: “It is total chaos. None of the bands got prior information and we have already decided on the logistics of mas on the road. We have already decided on where to stop for lunch, meeting points, etc. “How can they come six weeks before the Carnival to say there is a route change? That should have been done since after Carnival (last year).
“We (the bandleaders) are the ones who have to take the pressure and make the adjustments but we are not involved in the planning process. I see this new plan causing a lot more problems.” The new plan would see the parade moving from Tragarete Road, up Victoria Avenue and to the Savannah. Legacy bandleader Michael (Big Mike) Antoine said he had not heard that the new route had been decided.
“I haven’t heard any details of the changes,” he added. Another bandleader, Ronnie McIntosh, said he was not aware the new route had been confirmed. “I knew it was being discussed and that they said they would have a second meeting with bandleaders, but I was not aware that it was official,” he added. McIntosh said he would reserve comment until he got further information.
The number of bandleaders at the meeting could not be verified. President of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) David Lopez said he could not confirm or deny any decisions taken at the meeting. He admitted he had been present but answered questions posed by the T&T Guardian by saying: “I cannot confirm anything.” Derek Rajnauth, Trini Revellers bandleader, suggested a new route would not be a bad idea.
“It is good. Let us try something new. Trinidadians are afraid of change but I feel it is better. “With the old route, bands would have to take off their music when passing the hospital (Portof- Spain General). This way we don’t have to do that.”