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Monday, January 20, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 17th JANUARY, 2014
Pan players from steelbands based in
east Port-of-Spain are on the run as the
country s crime wave continues to escalate,
says Gerard Mendez, chairman of Pan
Trinbago s northern region.
Up to late yesterday, six bands---Nostrand
Symphony, City Sun Valley, Freelancers,
Blue Diamonds, Neal and Massy Trinidad
All Stars and Witco Desperadoes---were
reported to have been directly affected by
issues related to gun violence in this part
of the capital.
Mendez said Nostrand Symphony had to
abandon its base on St Paul Street, Port-
of-Spain, for safer grounds near Queen s
Park East, while his band City Sun Valley
based on Nelson Street was now making
alternative practice arrangements because
security concerns for its players.
Last year, the band had to flee the area
when gun violence erupted. Its management
found refuge at a car park at the corner of
Duke and Henry Streets. While there, a pro-
prietor opposite agreed to assist the band,
providing storage facilities for the instru-
ments and even extended washroom facilities
to the pan players.
Freelancers Steel Orchestra which hails
from Duncan Street has been unable to
commence rehearsals for competition.
Mendez said word reaching his office sug-
gested that the band was contemplating
bowing out of this year s competition.
One week ago, officials of eight-time
National Panorama champion Neal and
Massy Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra
on Duke Street were forced to abruptly end
Panorama rehearsals when loud explosions
were heard in its catchment area.
Meanwhile, ten-time National Panorama
champion Witco Desperadoes, commonly
referred to as the "pride of the hill," had
again left its Laventille home, for the Nation-
al Infrastructure and Property Development
Company (Nipdec) car park on Cadiz Road,
However, the T&T Guardian has learnt
that this would be the last year the property
would be used as Desperadoes alternate
Its use of the property for 2014 was orig-
inally denied, Mendez said, but an inter-
vention by Pan Trinbago s executive caused
officials at the state agency to reconsider
its position for this year only.
The legendary Blue Diamond on lower
George Street has not been spared. The
band was also feeling the squeeze as the
East Dry River community remains under
siege, the steelband official said.
"All the bands in that community are
under pressure...It (crime) is taking a heavy toll on
us," Mendez said.
"Some of the people who would normally come
out and listen to different bands are not doing it,
because they are afraid. So we are under terrible
stress in the northern region. The bands in the East
Dry River area are under a lot of stress.
"Bullets have no eyes. We have to take precautions.
Gunshots! We have to call off the practice. We not
comfortable! Players who want to play with the band
not coming to that community. So we are at a dis-
advantage. We don t have 25 players practising as
yet and the minimum that you can go to the Panorama
preliminaries with is 45."
Contacted, secretary of the central executive of
Pan Trinbago and manager of Courts Sounds Spe-
cialists of Laventille Richard Forteau said the steelband
body was concerned with the communiqués being
issued by member bands on the issue of security.
The executive, he said, was paying close attention
to the uncomfortable developments that threaten
not only the welfare of the pan players that constitute
these bands, but their fan base, too.
"Nationally, we at Pan Trinbago are calling on our
steelbands to get together with the community police,"
"An ounce of prevention is better than a pound
of cure...whatever we can do to prevent a situation.
The law is the law and like anything else if something
happens we have to go them and report the situation.
"So, let s harbour that kind of relationship with
our officers within the community so that we can
ensure that our practice is safe. We know that we
are making music and if we are coming together to
make music, music is the food of love, (and) there
shouldn t be any killings where love is concern.
"I can tell you that for the (past) year, we have
giving the T&T Police Service and the policemen
who are actually working in the Laventille area, a
certain amount of support. Our panyard is open, so
they can access our washroom facilities because we
recognise that in this fight, we all have to come
together. We have to come together if we have to
arrest this situation. We are talking about innocent
He added: "We would not like to know that a
young girl or young boy, a young man or a young
woman left their home to come and do some
rehearsals and to participate with Panorama and Car-
nival with Sound Specialist (and) anything happen
Justice Minister Emmanuel George, left, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, centre, and Housing and Urban Development Minister
Roodal Moonilal discuss issues related to prison during a visit to the Santa Rosa Eastern Correctional Rehabilitation Centre
A statement from the Office of the Attorney General said the visit to the facility is in response to debate on the Bail Amendment
Bill which will deny bail for a minimum of 120 days to an accused who was already convicted and served his time for a violent,
dangerous and serious crime. The bill was passed in Parliament on Friday. The Opposition voted against the measure. The bill is
expected to be debated in the Senate tomorrow. PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OF THE AG
As crime wave rises in east PoS...
Panmen running scared
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