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Bands force NCC to retain old route
After weeks of controversy surrounding which direction masqueraders should enter the Queen’s Park Savannah from on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, acting Prime Minister Prakash Ramadhar yesterday ordered that route remain the same as last year. Ramadhar made the decision after meeting with National Carnival Bandleaders’ Association president David Lopez, T&T Carnival Bandleaders’ Association president Gerard Weekes and National Carnival Commission CEO Michael Guyadeen, along with Minister of Arts Lincoln Douglas and National Security Minister Gary Griffith, and others at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair yesterday. Earlier this year, the NCC had announced several changes to the Parade of the Bands route, including a reversal direction the bands would enter the Queen’s Park Savannah, from its orignal westerly direction to an easterly flow.
However, the TTCBA and NCDF both stood in opposition to the change, arguing it could potentially increase congestion and lead to chaos on the road during the two-day festival. They also argued it posed a danger to masqueraders, since they would have to battle high winds at the QPS. Yesterday, Lopez said he felt the decision not to change the parade route was a step back for Carnival. “We all know the challenges faced as to congestion of route. A lot of factors cause congestion, trucks, pavement vendors et cetera,” Lopez said. He said he was aware of the challenges a new route would face as well, but added that trying a new route would have been a step in the right direction. “You can’t do the same thing over and over and expect a different result,” Lopez said.
One of the reasons Ramadhar gave for his decision to keep the original route was the lack of consultation with bandleaders. But Lopez challenged this, saying the new route had initially been presented since 2010 and consultation had taken place several times. “As a responsible organisation we thought it would be a good idea to try to get an ease in the Parade of the Bands and we were going to have bands come in from Victoria and exit on Queen’s Park East. “We think about masqueraders enjoying themselves. While there was a lot of support for the new route it was not as boisterous and loud as the people against it,” he said. He said while he felt a new route would be the better option to take Carnival forward, the NCBA would continue to work with security forces and relevant organisations in order to minimise congestion and effectively manage the parade route. “If that could be done and masqueraders do not wait six hours on Charlotte Street that would be great,” Lopez said. In a brief interview last night, Weekes said he was elated with the decision and described it as a victory for bandleaders. He thanked Ramadhar for his quick intervention and for “letting good sense prevail.”