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NCC seeks ways for freer flow of mas’ bands

By Sasha Harrinanan Saturday, January 11 2014

click on pic to zoom in
NCBA Chairman David Lopez addresses a meeting of Carnival bandleaders on January 8 at the VIP Room of the Grand Stand at the Queen's Park Savannah. Se...
NCBA Chairman David Lopez addresses a meeting of Carnival bandleaders on January 8 at the VIP Room of the Grand Stand at the Queen's Park Savannah. Se...

The National Carnival Commission (NCC) has commissioned Transport Systems Engineer, Dr Rae Furlonge, and the firm C&H Associates (CHA) to identify solutions to the congestion associated with the annual Parade of the Bands on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

Critical data gathered by the NCBA over several years was provided to CHA under a confidentiality agreement to help the firm devise solutions.

CHA Director, Derek Hamilton, suggested extending the parade route to contain the volume of bands. He also recommended Mas bands proceed clockwise to and from the QPS, to optimise efficiency. Hamilton stressed that they could not provide all the answers in one year, saying progress would be ongoing.

Furlonge said the route issue represented a major challenge, and that two types of software had been used to model the system, “applying a scientific approach” to a traditional system.

He pointed out that if all Carnival bands were lined up end to end, they could not all fit on the existing route.

He then used an animated simulation to show the movement of 55 large, medium and small bands moving along the proposed new, extended route, and crossing the Savannah stage from the western end.

Furlonge said the new system would provide more room in the lead-up to the stage, thereby easing blockages. He also noted that NCBA’s data, including GPS information, had been received a few days ago, and would be added to refine the simulated scenarios.

Furlonge predicted a 25 percent reduction in parade congestion if the new plan was adopted.

However several bandleaders objected to the proposed directional change, telling Hamilton this would require them to go against the wind, thereby posing a hazard to costumes and masqueraders, particularly children.

They also said with Carnival a mere seven weeks away, they were reluctant to consider such a major change for this year’s parade, but bandleaders did express their willingness to address the issue after “Carnival 2K14.”

The proposed changes were presented to dozens of bandleaders earlier this week (January 8) during a meeting held at Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS), Port-of-Spain. The meeting was convened by the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA), and facilitated by NCC.

NCC Chairman, Allison Demas, said Wednesday’s meeting had been called to obtain bandleaders’ views on the proposed route changes. She noted that security considerations were also being taken into account, with Brigadier General Carl Alphonso being appointed Chairman of NCC’s Operations and Infrastructure Committee.

The NCC has also been in discussions with members of Cabinet, the police, Fire Service and others to determine the best route.

Meanwhile, Chairman of NCBA’s Parade of the Bands Committee, Sam Lewis, asked participants to give the proposals an unbiased ear, and serious consideration. “There will be challenges and differences of opinion,” he said “but our aim is not to find fault, but to find solutions.” Lewis also said the goal was a congestion-free parade by 2015.

NCBA President, David Lopez, said consultations on a new proposed route had been taking place since July, 2013. He reminded the Mas fraternity that “Carnival belongs to all of us (and) we need to work together,” to improve the parade.

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