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Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Tale of Two Headlines

Today’s Trinidad Express features a story on the construction of a new home for the Prime Minister, and though I normally keep my political ranting and opinions to myself what struck me as being most incongruous about this article is not that it is going to cost tax payers $148 Million dollars but that the construction is due to be completed by JULY 2007!

About $148 million is to be spent on the construction of a new residence and diplomatic centre for the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

The project has a completion date of July 2007.

Tourism Minister Howard Chin Lee made the announcement on behalf of Prime Minister Patrick Manning as he responded to a question raised on the project by Opposition Senator Wade Mark during yesterday's sitting of the Senate at the Red House, Port of Spain.

Mark's question was addressed to Manning, an MP in the House of Representatives.

"The official residence is $36 million. The diplomatic centre, $55 million. Design fee, $11 million. Mobilisation insurance, etc, $14 million. External works, $32.1 million," Chin Lee said.

He said the project, as had been designed by a local architectural firm, was going to reach the $200 million mark until the China-based Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) was hired to do the job.

Juxtapose that, if you will, with the other headline on yesterday’s newspaper stating that construction has come to a halt on the New Carnival Centre that was slated to be completed by 2008. So you are telling me the foreign architects hired to build the Prime Minister’s house can finish that construction in three months yet since the last revelers chipped through the streets of Port of Spain NOTHING has been done to the Savannah in the same THREE MONTH time frame!

Construction of the proposed $450 million National Carnival and Entertainment Centre has come to a halt because the design is being reviewed.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning made the announcement yesterday almost a month and a half after the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) said the Request for Proposals for the project were to have been issued "in the coming weeks".

"The Carnival Centre is on hold because of the events of Carnival this year and the need to rethink the design in the face of all of that," Manning said during the sod-turning ceremony for the $800 million 26-storey Broadgate Place Plaza shopping complex in downtown Port of Spain.

At the post-Cabinet news conference at Whitehall, Port of Spain, on February 22, Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams said construction of the National Carnival and Entertainment Centre would not be completed in time for Carnival 2008.

She said it would be built by 2009, which means masqueraders could find themselves parading on the road in front of the Queen's Park Savannah next year, as they did for Carnival this year.

Now since I am privy to certain information concerning the proposed Carnival Centre, I personally know that it could NEVER be completed by the projected completion date of 2008 and had no hopes of playing mas anywhere but the on the streets again next year. So when I hear that date being thrown around by the politicians in charge I think to myself just another ploy to string us along. Mas will continue to be on the streets for the next couple years, I will be shocked if there is the brand new spanking centre ready for mas in 2009! As for revamping the plans for the Centre I have yet to see anything “new” so who knows how long that will take and how long again before the sod turning ceremony and when actual construction begins.

Maybe Joan Yuille Willams needs to fire UDEcott and hire the China-based Shanghai Construction Group if she is serious about providing a stage for masqueraders anytime in the near future. While the Prime Minister (or new Prime Minister given that General Elections is carded for later this year) will be sitting pretty in a brand, spanking, new “crib” we masqueraders will have to eat dust on the streets of Port of Spain for the next few years only because we truly LOVE the mas! This just goes to show, yet again, how much priority is really given to what is trumpeted as “The Greatest Show on Earth”.


Carnival's Biggest Losers

This is not a post about the Soca star who allegedly assaulted a fan or about any band that did their masqueraders wrong over the Carnival season. Carnivals Biggest Losers is a new Yahoo group conceptualized and created by Trini Orisha Girl as a support group for all those trying to shed the pounds and get in shape for Carnival 2008, the discription of the group's agenda is as follows:

You have put the deposit on your mas costume, and all is set. Everyday you look at the very fit models on the mas camp's website, and you go into a panic.
You question if you can do that costume justice. Three months before carnival, you go on a starvation diet and exercise like crazy. You spend some very sore days, with very low energy. You lose a few pounds, and the day after carnival you gorge on cakes, cookies, chicken and fries, only to start the cycle all over again. Or, if you are in pretty good shape, but still need to maintain until the next carnival comes around. This is the place for you.

Here we will share weight loss tips and strategies, exercise plans and routines, recipes, photos, and just serve as a general motivational group for those who love carnival, playing mas, and want to look good and feel healthy while doing it!

So if you think YOU have what it takes to become one of Carnival’s Biggest Losers, join the group today and start sharing your diet and exercise tips with other members as well as get support for the challenging days ahead!

Check out the website Carnival's Biggest Losers right here.
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