In the wake of Monday’s shooting incident which left one man dead and marred the climax of the annual Crop Over festival, a spokesman for masqueraders is calling on the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to change the current Kadooment route.
President of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM) Chetwyn Stewart today suggested that this was necessary in the interest of public safety.
“I will say this and I don’t care who get vex with me. It has come to a point where the route has to change. I personally don’t want it cause I grew up with that route. I understand the route. I understand the importance of the route and the people . . . [but] you cannot control the area that it is in now and the number of young people having guns and stuff you cannot control that route any more,” said Stewart, while insisting that change was now necessary.
“Safety must be first,” he added.
His comments come immediately on the heels of the shooting death of 20-year-old Taried Junior Rock of 3rd Avenue, Chapman Lane, St Michael who allegedly fell victim to gang violence while on the Spring Garden Highway for Monday’s Crop Over last lap celebrations.
At least 18 other people – including a six-year-old child, who was grazed by a bullet – are also nursing gunshot wounds as a result of the incident, which occurred after 6 p.m. on the Spring Garden Highway.
With police yet to apprehend the perpetrators, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley today said they should be made to feel the full weight of the law.
During a news conference at his Haggatt Hall, St Michael office, Lashley also acknowledged BAM’s concerns, saying all suggestions regarding the governance and execution of the festival would be seriously considered.
“We have an excellent relationship with our stakeholders, including the Barbados Association of Masqueraders and I’m sure the NCF will shortly be conducting their reviews and intense consultations with our stakeholders, and all of the ideas, including the one that Mr Stewart has put in the table, all of those will be looked at.
“We also work very close with the Royal Barbados Police Force and the security agencies, so we will be certainly reviewing all the relevant factors in relation to the security, taking into account the suggestions made by the stakeholders as we continue to provide and to develop Crop Over in the best possible manner,” the minister said.
In the meantime, members of BAM’s executive were scheduled to meet on Tuesday evening to discuss their Grand Kadooment concerns.
Stewart, who is deeply saddened by Monday night’s shooting incident, said it has served to underscore a number of issues raised by his association over the years.
“So we are really going to have to come out and make some statements because things can be a lot better, improvements can be made. And therefore we have to bring it out in the open now.
“Now is the time to implement some of these things that would make a difference and make it a lot safer for revellers and for people on the road on the whole. This isn’t about Grand Kadooment only. This will have an impact on Barbados on a whole and how we are seen as a safe destination,” he said.