Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Fun event leaves Savannah ‘stained’
Sunday’s Kaleidodash fun run left its mark on the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, literally. While organisers and participants felt it was a success, there were mixed reviews because of the stains left in the wake of the five-hour event. Up to yesterday afternoon, the purple and red powder that was thrown at the 2,300 participants still carpeted parts of the pitchwalk around the perimeter.
It highlighted very visibly the lack of clean-up efforts immediately after the event, as well as a loophole in the protocol for allowing such events to take place at the Savannah. The Savannah falls under the watch of three entities: The Horticultural Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and the Port-of-Spain City Corporation.
The NCC has authority over the Grand Stand, while the Horticultural Division has jurisdiction over the wider Savannah and therefore should be responsible for giving the green light to events like Kaleidodash. Instead, the NCC authorised the event, while the Horticultural Division had no record of an application for permission. An organising member of Kaleidodash, Jamie Garcia, said yesterday the route was cleared of all garbage by a 12-member team right after the event.
She said all the residue should be cleared by today and explained that a power-wash clean-up was delayed because of a sequence of unavoidable events, starting with torrential rain. Garcia said because of heavy rain on Sunday, the event started later than planned, at 5.30 pm, and thus finished late, around 10 pm as there was an after-party after the run. She blamed poor lighting for not power-washing the Savannah immediately after the event.
Part of the Queen’s Park West stretch was being power-washed at noon yesterday but a drive around the Savannah at 3.30 pm showed the stains were still brightly visible.
Savannah users react
One jogger and Port-of-Spain resident, Sherrard Spiers, said he was offended as he drove by the Savannah yesterday and blasted the organisation for using an excuse like “poor lighting” for not restoring the area to its original condition. “There are portable lights you can rent for that. It’s excuse after excuse,” he added He said if the organisation was serious about a clean-up, it would have organised and managed those efforts better and faster.
While Spiers recognised Kaleidodash’s good intentions to help special needs charities, he said the consequence on the Savannah was inexcusable. “How does any entity get the privilege to do this? I’m saying no,” he said. Participant Shalini Rose Campbell also weighed in on the residue left behind, saying by phone: “It will wash away.” Campbell said the coloured substance left behind was no worse than any other after an event in the Savannah and said she had fun while contributing to a worthy cause.
About $60,000 was raised on Sunday’s run, which will be donated to special needs charities across the country, Garcia said. She added that 500 of the 2,300 participants were special needs participants.
Who’s really in charge?
Acting director of the Horticultural Division Kamaldeo Maharaj said: “To our best knowledge we never received any application for use of the Savannah from this group.” He confirmed that Kaleidodash had applied to the NCC and was granted permission but said he would have to write to the NCC as it did not have jurisdiction over that part of the Savannah and so should not have given permission. “We will inquire from NCC to find out what really transpired there,” he said, via telephone yesterday afternoon.
Maharaj said the resulting state of the pitchwalk was a problem and a “travesty of the Savannah in terms of the substance left on the jogging track.” He added that the division would have never given permission for the event because of the coloured powder that was used. Maharaj explained that would be in breach of the terms and conditions in allowing use of the Savannah.
Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing said if the stained areas were not restored to their “pristine greenery” by the coming weekend, he would write to the NCC. “Everybody had their fun but nobody cares about the day after,” he said by phone yesterday afternoon. Lee Sing contended that Kaleidodash was supposed to come to the City Corporation for permission over the NCC and the Horticultural Division. Calls to NCC chair Alison Demas were not returned yesterday.
Spokesman for Citizens for Conservation Rudylynn de Four-Roberts was less perturbed by the aftermath, saying it was expected that organisers needed time to address the clean-up, as long as there was a timeframe and it was not an issue about garbage. Speaking by phone yesterday, De Four-Roberts said: “As long as it is reinstated within a stipulated period, that is acceptable. You need time to do it. It’s not like garbage to pick up.”
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