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No to Mas Band Centre at Walvaroo

No to Mas Band Centre at Walvaroo

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As Government ponders its next move in relation to the Mas Band Centre at Walvaroo, veteran mas man Elroy ‘Blondie Bird’ Boyde is calling on the authorities to scrap its plans to continue construction at the site.{{more}}

For a start, the centre is being constructed in a bad location, Boyde opined.

A mas man for the past 41 years, Boyde passionately gave several reasons why he believes the Government should not continue the project at Walvaroo.

For the last few years, work on the project has been suspended following a rock slippage near the construction site.

It could cost the state up to EC$1.8 million to construct a shield, depending on what option the Government chooses in putting a defence mechanism in place.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, Boyde said that it is not practicable to build costumes at Walvaroo then transport them to Kingstown. Secondly, he is concerned about the hazard of falling rocks.

“Man won’t be comfortable there. It could mash up anytime, destroy everybody,” said Boyde.

“Right now I won’t advise the Government to spend any more money there. I personally won’t advise the Government to spend any more money there because it come like a waste of time…waste of money,” said Boyde frankly.

He suggested that a portion of reclaimed lands at Rose Place, popularly called Bottom Town, will be ideal for the construction of the Mas Band Centre, as this site is in a central location near to the Victoria Park, where costumes are judged.

Boyde lamented that the absence of a Mas Band Centre creates several challenges for Mas Bands here, including the payment of rent for space in Kingstown, which is already limited. The provision of accomodation for persons volunteering their service to the band was identified as another challenge.

Amidst the hurdles that the present situation poses, Boyde told SEARCHLIGHT: “We need a home.” He added, development of “the art form” can only take place if there is a home.

At the Friday, May 28, sitting of Parliament, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace enquired of Clayton Burgin, Minister of Transport and Works, whether the Pan Yard Project at Sion Hill and the Mas Band Centre at Walvaroo have been abandoned. Eustace also asked if the answer was no what is their present status.

Burgin responded that these are two key projects in the Government’s quest to develop culture and they had not been abandoned.

The minister, under whose portfolio the construction of the building falls, told his colleagues construction on the Mas Band Centre was suspended following a rock slippage which caused damage to two of the buildings under construction.

He disclosed that three remedial measures were investigated to provide protection to the buildings and the nearby road.

The options proposed are: A mesh net to cover the entire embankment, estimated to cost EC$1.8; the construction of a wall at the site costing EC$1 million; and the relocation of the steel frames of the two affected buildings to the site near to the Courts Warehouse.

“Each option has a significant cost for which financing must be evidently provided,” said Burgin.

He made it clear that no funds have been alocated in this year’s Estimates to continue work on the projects enquired about.

“Nevertheless Mr.Speaker, every consideration will be given to ensure that these projects are completed in the interest of the community in which they are located,” said Burgin.

The minister stated that the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition provided an opportunity for him to remind the members of Parliament of the enormous emphasis that the Unity Labour Party administration has placed on culture.

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