President of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) David Lopez has warned junior bandleaders not to stray from the designated Port-of-Spain route today, or they will face disqualification.This comes after Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee on Thursday invited bands in Junior Parade to begin at the downtown judging point at South Quay, despite a decision by the NCBA that the parade would start at Adam Smith Square this year.
During a press conference at the NCBA office on Picton Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Lopez was adamant that all the bands parading today must start at Adam Smith Square on Ariapita Avenue, and proceed directly to the Queen's Park Savannah.Last week, Woodbrook residents circulated a petition opposing the NCBA's decision to begin the route at Adam Smith Square. The residents argued that changing the starting point from Port-of-Spain to Woodbrook would be unfair to children travelling from outside the city.
Addressing concerns raised about bands coming from "deep south" yesterday, Lopez said arrangements had been made with the Public Transportation Service Corporation (PTSC) so that children would be picked up at City Gate and transported to Carlos Street.He also addressed the wind issues along the new parade route raised by junior bandleader Rosalind Gabriel, saying, "Once you on the parade route, at some point in time we going to face the wind, and at some point in time the wind is going to be on their back."
Gabriel going downtown
In response to yesterday's NCBA announcement, Gabriel said she was not at all afraid, or surprised by Lopez's statements."He is all about victimisation, scare tactics, and being vindictive," she said by phone."We have an approved police route, which includes Port-of-Spain, and we are sticking to it. How can he disqualify people who are sticking to an approved police route?"Gabriel said her band would still start at the downtown judging point today.
Mayor: NCBA nonsense
Tim Kee also responded to the Lopez's statements, saying it was completely nonsensical."It is not within his remit to say our route is illegal, he can only be advised by what the police say," Tim Kee said by phone yesterday.He said Lopez also had no right to threaten to disqualify bands for not following the NCBA route.Tim Kee said it was unfair that the children would have to face the wind and sun while walking east along Ariapita Avenue."It's unreasonable to have children walk that way," Tim Kee said.
He said the parade was about the children, and not running from competition to competition for the financial benefit of bandleaders.