Thursday 1st March, 2007

 
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Stickfighting finals miserable failure

The national stickfighting finals promoted by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) on February 14 at the old market in Princes Town turned out to be a fiasco. I can find no other word to describe it. The organisation was deplorable, especially with respect to accommodation and security.

It would appear as if the NCC obtained the assistance of a Princes Town organisation and between the two they failed miserably.

The old market was far too small, and at least as many paying patrons ended up standing as those who obtained seats. The NCC should have had attendance figures from previous years to guide it in the choice of an appropriate venue. The inadequate accommodation seems to have given rise to many of the problems which followed.

Some standing patrons obstructed the view of those who were seated, and many did not respond to the pleas of officials to co-operate by desisting from this behaviour.

At one corner of the gayelle, standing patrons, not content to obstruct the view of those seated behind them, even stood on chairs. They did so for the duration of the show in spite of the pleas of those whose view they were obstructing.

There was no security inside the facility to maintain order. I observed two uniformed policemen outside at the entrance, but according to a newspaper report, they seemed to have their hands full with the crowd outside. Appeals over the PA system for the municipal police to maintain order failed.

Could not a few policemen been hired to maintain order? If they were inside the facility, they were not visible, did not assist in maintaining order, and did not respond to appeals over the PA system for help.

The organisation was so poor that one hour after the scheduled start at 7 pm, appeals were still being made to competing gayelles to register at the head table.

I listened to days of advertisement on the radio and no entry fee was advertised. It was only at the gate on the night of the show that we learned what the entry fee was.

There was an absence of an elevated stage to accommodate a gayelle or arena, something which is fundamental to all gladiatorial sports, eg boxing and wrestling. The gayelle being on the same level with the seated patrons caused its share of problems. I am over six feet tall and had difficulty in seeing over those seated in front of me.

The two ring masters did not perform an important part of their duties, which was to keep the gayelle clear of unauthorised people. Appeals for them to do so over the PA system were totally ignored all night.

Inadequate accommodation, no security, and no elevated stage lead me to wonder whether adequate funding was allocated to this promotion apart from the prize money, and whether stickfighting was considered to be the poor relation of Carnival events and what the prospects are for maintaining this important tradition.

To add to the woes, a pipeline broke and the danger of water on the floor on which stood high-voltage equipment caused considerable delay. The programme eventually got underway three hours late.

In spite of the considerable inconvenience caused by unavoidable as well as avoidable delays, we did see some good stickfighting. The drumming and singing of the drummers, the dancing of the stickfighters and the fighting itself were quite entertaining. It is a pity that the event was so poorly organised.

The NCC commissioner present must be singled out for praise. She tried beyond the call of duty to maintain some semblance of order, but the odds were against her from the outset.

This letter is intended mainly for the benefit of the NCC so that it can avoid the pitfalls of 2007 and put on a better show in the future.

Leonard Ragbir

San Fernando


$20 to park on public property

Carnival Sunday evening, I tried to enter the MovieTowne premises but was faced with a barricade (a good distance from the Movie-Towne guard booth) manned by very hostile and aggressive “security officers” whose clothes (not uniforms) did not identify by whom they were employed.

I was told in a very aggressive tone that I would have to pay $20 in order to gain entry into the compound and a ticket on which was printed $40, which was crossed off and $20 written in.

I asked whether I could proceed to the right of the barricade to the area which is clearly outside of the MovieTowne premises but which their patrons regularly use due to the inadequacy of the MovieTowne parking. The “guard” insisted that I would have to pay the $20 fee to enter that public area as well.

When I protested that MovieTowne had no authority to charge a fee for parking in a public area outside the MovieTowne premises, I was verbally abused.

I suspect that with the Dimanche Gras show taking place at the nearby Jean Pierre Complex that evening, someone at MovieTowne thought this was a golden opportunity to earn some extra money or restrict parking on public lands.

Is it not enough that MovieTowne is charging patrons a fee to enter the concession area, now it’s a fee to enter the car park and what is worse a fee to park on public property.

I am calling on the Port Authority and the responsible minister, Colm Imbert, to investigate this matter.

MovieTowne is the one who should be made to pay for the facility of allowing its patrons to park on the public lands surrounding Movie-Towne. It is in fact extending the area of it lease at taxpayers’ expense.

Molly Richardson

Westmoorings


Country lacks proper security

Citizens for a Better T&T (CBTT) believes that kidnappers and other criminals will continue to rob, rape, and murder our people because we lack proper security for citizens.

We don’t need to be psychic to predict that this year over 300 citizens are going to be murdered while an unacceptable number will be kidnapped for ransom.

Many of us are praying that the Government succeeds in its fight against crime. However don’t bet on this happening in the near future.

CBTT has made numerous crime-fighting recommendations which we hope will be adopted by the Government in the quickest possible time.

Clearly, there are some influential people in the kidnapping business because most to them continue to evade the police. Records show that even police and army officers are involved in this criminal activity.

Every corporate citizen is at risk. It seems that it’s a liability to be a successful businessman because you may be the envy of many and the target of kidnappers.

Many honest people in the business sector have already sent their children to study/reside abroad because they fear for their safety.

Kidnapping will continue to be a big business as long as our security system remains inadequate. The majority of people could testify to the lack of regular police patrols in their communities.

It’s unfortunate that after more than four decades of independence, government after government could not pass DNA and breathalyser legislation. Added to this we still can’t even place police patrols, cameras and other surveillance systems throughout the country.

Yet our politicians, past and present, want zero-tolerance on murder, kidnapping and drunk driving.

Harrack Balramsingh

CBTT, La Romaine


Port to ensure movies for all

I wish to respond to the letter from Patricia Charles headed “Adult comedy on TT Express” (February 27).

I do confirm that movies are shown on the two fast ferries, TNT Express and The Cat, as part of the on-board entertainment. It is our policy to show videos rated for general audiences so it is regrettable that an adult-rated comedy was shown during one of the trips (February 13 on the 6.30 am sailing).

Obviously there was a slip-up on this occasion and I am assuring Charles, and all our passengers, that with immediate effect we will be extra vigilant in the choice of movies shown by ensuring that the policy of pre-screening of movies is upheld.

I wish to convey thanks to Charles for her positive comments on the trip and also for drawing the matter to our attention, as our aim is to make the fast ferry sailing an enjoyable experience.

Betty Ann Gibbons

Public relations manager

Port Authority of T&T


Use flags for Arrive Alive drive

I have been following the various sponsored activities by the Arrive Alive campaign and I would like to suggest a good medium for getting the message across on a consistent basis.

Utilise 90 per cent, if not all, of the sponsored funds to buy thousands of flags with the message and the sponsor’s name on them (flags that can be installed on vehicles’ windows). Remember all the national flags that were brought at $30 each for the World Cup? The Arrive Alive flags would be sold at cost.

When the “fad” wanes we can come up with another attractive flag and a “Time to stop crime” message.

Gary Fitzwilliam

Diego Martin


 


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