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Mas body unhappy with new parade route

by Rachael Espinet Monday, January 13 2014

CERTAIN Carnival bandleaders are not happy with the route proposed by the National Carnival Committee (NCC) for this year’s Parade of the Bands.

“The NCC has gone about proposing a route without proper consultation with the bandleaders and without understanding the needs of the bandleaders,” said Gerard Weekes, president of the TT Carnival Band Association.

“(We are not) in agreement with the route.”

Weekes said the first problem their bandleaders have with the proposed route is that it goes clockwise instead of the traditional anti-clockwise the bands usually take.

Weekes said this new route proposed would go against the wind which would cause difficulty for people in large costumes, big head pieces and with banners.

Another issue, Weekes said, the bandleaders have with the proposed route is that the NCC proposes to extend the route to areas in St James.

Weekes said bands usually choose to parade on unofficial routes in St James, but now the NCC wants to make that route official. Weekes said for years the TT Police Service (TTPS) has declined to stand guard on the unofficial route because they do not have enough police officers to stand watch on those streets.

He said bandleaders are told that they can go onto that route unofficially, but there will be no police protection. It means the bands would have to rely on their own security guards to protect the masqueraders.

Weekes said even though the NCC has signalled its intention to make official that unofficial route the bands pass on every year, the NCC did not properly consult with the TTPS.

He said every year the bandleaders request that a prompt postmortem be done in either April or March to discuss the problems they faced that year and consult on any changes but this never happens. Weekes said the NCC would usually begin consulting with bandleaders just mere weeks before Carnival and described this as unacceptable.

“Bring this change in a time when bandleaders are not stressed out, lacking sleep and are irritable,” Weekes said.

He said even the Junior Carnival bandleaders are experiencing the same problem with the NCC.

The NCC is expected to hold another meeting on Thursday, but Weekes said he does not think many bandleaders would be present.

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