J'ouvert bands resist suggestion to move downtown

J’Ouvert bands are resisting the suggestion that they be shifted from Woodbrook and environs to Port-of-Spain for the 2019 Carnival celebrations.

They claim that such a move to the capital city will result in their masqueraders being targeted by the criminal elements and lead to chaos and confusion. On Wednesday, Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald, at a press conference with president of the Woodbrook Residents’ Association Lynette Dolly and other stakeholders, put forward seven recommendations for Carnival and J’Ouvert bands for next year’s Carnival to help regulate them.

Among the recommendations was that J’Ouvert bands be banned from using paint in the Woodrbook, Newtown and St Clair areas and that they be relocated to Port-of-Spain. It was also suggested that a parade route be established for them. McDonald said the J’Ouvert bands have been creating headache for the residents by defacing their properties with paint and mud, while the playing of loud music was the most contentious issue.

Yesterday, manager of Woobrook-based Mystic J’Ouvert Dominic Rajnath protested the proposal, saying he would not support it.

“They can’t have a meeting and recommend what they want to do. At least they should have consulted with us the band leaders before coming up with such an idea. We ought to have a say. If our masqueraders don’t feel safe in town, then why should we go there?”

Rajnath said going into Port-of-Spain would mean that bands would have a longer route to traverse since their starting point begins in Woodbrook. With all the bands merging in town, Rajnath said this was a recipe for chaos and confusion.

He said J’Ouvert bands follow their own route to avoid bottlenecks.

Operating for the past 16 years, Mystic J’Overt had a following of 500 members this Carnival.

Rajnath said J’Ouvert is held throughout the country and no other area complains, as he called on J’Ouvert bands to form a united front to speak out.

“They want us to have a designated route but this would cause chaos and confusion. I am not in support of what they are saying. This will kill my band. J’Ouvert is about paint and mud, how you could band paint?”

The manager of medium-sized band Jungle Fever who identified himself as Renaud G said he was totally against the relocation.

“Besides, going in town would put expose my masqueraders to risk knowing the crime situation. I cannot depend on the police service to protect them.”

Involved in J’Ouvert for the past 16 years, Renaud recommended that bands use a non-toxic paints which can be easily washed off.

“You can also let the bands pay a fee to use those areas and let that money go towards the Port of Spain City Corporation to assist in cleaning up. If you move them to town the same thing is going to happen.”

Renaud appealed to the Minister of Culture Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly to intervene.

“You cannot make a decision without consulting with us.”

Another Woodbrook band which launched this year also condemned the relocation, stating that this would kill their membership and band.

“People would not want to register with us once the route is in town. People feel safer on the avenue.”

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Shaliza Hassanali)