EYES ON THE MAS
By Miranda La Rose Friday, February 14 2014
The security for this year’s Carnival activities at the Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS), Port-of- Spain has been beefed up with the installation of 18 surveillance cameras around the landmark open space.
Most of the cameras are in an area which is the venue for many Carnival events including the Parade of the Bands on March 3 and 4.
“The security of masqueraders, revellers and spectators is a high priority, and the board and the chief executive officer of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) has taken this very seriously,” NCC chief of security Clyde Charles told reporters yesterday during a tour of the NCC facilities at the QPS.
“We want to make the Queen’s Park Savannah the safest place in the globe to party at Carnival,” Charles said adding, “We want to be the premium event venue for Trinidad and Tobago, so that promoters outside of Carnival can come with their events and enjoy our space.”
The installation of the 18 cameras, which is the first part of a two-phase project that will include 25 more cameras Charles said, has been done in collaboration with the Ministry of National Security and the National Security Operations Centre (NSOC).
Noting the security system is covering the entire savannah, Charles said, “We know from historical data what has happened in the savannah and what can go wrong in the savannah at any time, so we try to cover most of the areas,” he said.
The system, he said, will be manned by two personnel round-the-clock during the Carnival season. The system has the capacity to hold data for two months before they will be automatically removed. Data from the cameras can be retrieved to assist in investigations. While he did not go into the details of the operation, Charles and executive administrator of the NSOC Brian Job, demonstrated the reach of the cameras to reporters.
According to Job, the role of the NSOC for the Carnival season will be one of coordination between the security services.
“It must be quite clear that the NCC will be responsible for overall security,” he said “and all the NSOC will be doing is coordination among the security agencies, while the Police and Fire Services will take the lead in providing security.”
The cost of the system is pegged at under a half million dollars and was bought within Government’s budgetary allocation to the NCC, chief executive officer Michael Guyadeen told Newsday.
In spite of a hive of activity taking place, including the construction of the North Stand and the setting up of two sets of bleachers along the entry route to the stage, NCC chairman Allison Demas told reporters the organisation is ready for the Panorama semi-finals which takes place this weekend.
According to NCC commissioner and Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz, over 70 steel bands will compete for places in the Panorama finals.
An additional feature to Panorama this year is a “Pan Splash” which features a pool in which revellers can cool down on the Greens, an area for partying away from the stage where the bands will perform. The pool has a depth of four feet, and eight life guards will be in attendance, Diaz said. The area where the pool has been installed has been cordoned off.
The expenditure to provide facilities on the Greens for Panorama, he said is being borne by Pan Trinbago from funds raised by the organisation at last year’s activities on the Greens itself.
During the tour, it was noted that the dressing rooms, which have been a concern for band leaders and performers have been completed and are ready for use.
The bleachers which hold an estimated 400 persons, Guyadeen said, will be used to accommodate, free-of-cost, senior citizens and the handicapped. Ramps are being put in place to accommodate wheelchair users. The bleachers, Guyadeen said, are being erected by a contractor. If they are used successfully this year, he hoped sponsors could assist the contractor next year to erect them once again.
Meanwhile, the Carnival Village, which has been reconstructed for the fourth time this year, was opened last Friday and is attracting a number of schoolchildren and other visitors during the day.
While most of the booths remained closed yesterday, ushers told Newsday that the village comes alive in the evenings, when a number of artistes also perform on stage.