The Guyana government on Tuesday insisted that it would be sticking with the Stabroek via Brickdam to D’urban Park route for the Mashramani costume and float parade, citing it’s historical significance and safety concerns.
Following a decision taken in 2016 as part of the Golden Jubilee Celebration, the Education Ministry through its Department of Culture has opted to stick to the new route for the 2017 Mash float parade.
That route includes bands and contingents assembling at Stabroek Square on February 23, reveling along Brickdam and culminating at the Durban Park.
This decision has caused some amount of public outcry on social and other media. However, Minister Nicolette Henry with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sports has offered several reasons for the decision; chief of them being security.
“In the past when the procession started at the junction of Camp and Church streets, children were not included but as of last year a decision was taken to add a children component to the parade, hence, the length of the route had to be made shorter to accommodate them as a more youth friendly approach,” Minister Henry was quoted as saying in a statement.
Explaining the choice to use Brickdam as the main carriage way for the parade, the Minister posited that it was the first road paved in Guyana’s history and the movement was to treat with the limited space at the starting point and the bottleneck of costume bands not being able to pass the Irving and Church Street section and further along.
However, chief above the reasons posited is the safety risks and concerns expressed by sections of the National Security Agencies on Church as well as along Irving Street. “From a security point of view this route is better controlled. It’s more of an issue of safety and security.”
Further, the Minister said that “we did not just make the decision by ourselves and based on feedback we have been able to conclude that the new route offers the best view for more persons to see the displays from the safety of the stands at Durban Park.”
Those stands can accommodate as many as 30,000 patrons comfortably in addition to those who would wish to view the procession from the 1763 Monument Square.
When asked how the public and corporate citizens stand to benefit as well as the small man who ‘hustles’ on small trays, etc. from this route change, the Event Coordinator Canterbury assured that, “there is adequate vending space at Durban Park and the Square of the Revolution” as was proven during the 2016 Jubilee Parade.
Further, with this arrangement, shut-ins at the Palms have no need to come out on the road but can instead enjoy the event from the safety and comfort of the institution’s compound.
On the subject of picnicking, Canterbury said such activity happened on the route, at the Square of the Revolution and Durban Park as well as along Homestretch Avenue where vending can be done.
The old route started at Camp and Church Street, East along Church Street, north along Irvine Street/ Vlissengen Road and west along Thomas Road into the National Park.
Along that route, families and friends had picnicked while small, medium and large scale vendors had sold beverages and food.
However, that route had been over the years left coated with garbage for as much as two days.