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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mas on the road....indefinitely?

The following article appeared in yesterday's Trinidad Express:

Construction of the new National Carnival and Entertainment Centre will start in September, Culture Minister Marlene McDonald has said.

"Construction will start in September 2008 and we are hoping that by the first quarter of 2010 the Centre will be completed," McDonald told the Express in a telephone interview.

"The design is finished but we are just doing the final tweaking. We will then invite tenders and award contracts."

Construction of the proposed $450 million National Carnival and Entertainment Centre came to a halt last year because the design was being reviewed.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning had made the announcement of the work contract stoppage in November 2007, almost a month and a half after the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) said the Requests for Proposals for the project were to have been issued "in the coming weeks".

Manning then said: "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."

The Express understands that the original design incorporated the Parade of Bands in the Centre, but the Government is now considering keeping mas on the roads.

When asked to comment on this, McDonald said: "A few changes are being made which I cannot speak about at the moment, because I haven't yet sat down with the designer and Udecott to finalise the design." In February last year, former Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams said construction of the centre would not be completed in time for Carnival 2008. However, she said it would have been built by 2009.

While work is still on hold for the centre, work has already begun on the Academy of the Performing Arts, another cultural facility approved by the Manning administration.

Now, I know that the proposed construction on the National Carnival and Entertainment Centre had come to a halt months ago and that the design was being "modified", however this is the first I am seeing that Government proposes to keep mas ON THE STREETS!!! Wasn't the original design modeled after Rio's Sambadrome, the design that Peter Minshall , and others, criticized so much?

I am not liking the sound of "keeping mas on the roads" at all! And shall update you all when I do some further investigating, in the mean time feel free to share your thoughts and comments about your experience with mas on the road for Carnival 2008.

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