Saturday, December 16, 2017

Demonising mas route plan


Mark Fraser

 I have been observing the debate over the new addition to the Carnival landscape introduced by four bands. The Socadrome, as it is dubbed, is an attempt to find a solution to the congestion and hours of waiting at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain. This situation has been a problem since the 1980s, and now there is an effort to implement a possible solution to the problem by moving four of the biggest bands in Carnival to a new location—a decentralisation of the mas, so to speak; a necessary measure that must be taken since the infrastructure surrounding the Savannah is clearly inadequate to handle the volume of mas traffic making its way to the big stage. 

One would have thought these innovators would have been praised for taking on the risk of investing their organisations’ money to in the implementation of this proposed solution. Instead, they have been vilified and people have put labels and projected all kinds of absurd negative motives behind their efforts.

Certain people have called the effort an attempt to segregate the Carnival, saying they are making it elitist and exclusive, yet none of these supposed intellectuals can offer any substantial solution to the problem. None of these vocal naysayers are willing to put their money where their mouths are. 

Now we have residents in Woodbrook offering all kinds of weak excuses on how this new move could affect them. Woodbrook has been the mecca of Carnival for decades; most Carnival bands do their last-lap chips through the streets of Woodbrook. Bands parading there is nothing new.

Interestingly, one of their main arguments is fear of the inability of ambulances and emergency services to access their homes in the midst of the festival. However, the official parade route sees thousands of masqueraders jamming right outside the Port of Spain General Hospital and the access streets. Yet the ambulances are able to make it to the hospital. As a former masquerader, I know the DJ would usually switch off the music and ask band members to move to the side, and the vehicles are able to pass.

Further, I notice when there is a major concert or event at the stadium, the streets are gridlocked with traffic and that, to me, represents a far greater risk than foot traffic with a few music trucks on the streets. 

In conclusion, it really saddens me that people can ascribe all kinds of negative connotations to a move simply designed to address the challenges of an oversubscribed route. We are happy to stand at the side and point fingers, draw our own conclusions and then pass judgment. 

To the leaders of the four bands, I leave you with this: it is much easier to stand at the side and criticise than it is to create, but you go and innovate. People will ascribe all kinds of ulterior motives to your genuine actions but stand the course and believe in your vision. This country needs the innovators and the risk takers who are about action and not about talk. You are working hard to create something new, while several others merely talk and do nothing substantial, contribute no fresh ideas and clearly have no vision. Do not let the blind and feeble-minded lead you away from your path of progress. Cheers to you guys; all the best with your endeavours. After 30 years of mas gridlock, we actually have some citizens tangibly investing in a solution.

Angelique Cummings