Public safety is Government’s priority
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GoRTT) wishes to debunk a number of inaccuracies published in today’s Guardian under the headline Split in Cabinet over stage in sea and in its editorial titled Lessons from Maracas sea stage saga.
Contrary to what was reported, the GoRTT never granted approval, tacit or otherwise, for the fete to be held in the sea.
Further, approval was sought and given to the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Dr the Honourable Lovell Francis to travel to Guadeloupe on official Government business for an education exchange. As publicly confirmed by Dr Francis, he was not authorized by the Cabinet to engage in discussions with the organisers of Karukera One Love Music Festival.
Dr Francis was not on a fact finding mission for the festival on behalf of the GoRTT nor did he make any commitments to the promoters on behalf of the Government. There was an unplanned, informal meeting with organisers during his visit to Guadeloupe.
Furthermore, reports provided to the GoRTT by the various state agencies, indicate that the producers of the festival did not disclose that a stage would be built in the sea. All statutory bodies which were approached for the requisite approvals were not informed that a stage would have been erected in the sea.
The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) reported that the promoters initially approached the Authority for a noise variation. However, via newspaper reports, the EMA became aware that a stage would be built in the sea.
Furthermore, the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad & Tobago (Udecott) confirmed that the agency received an application from the promoters to host the event, with no mention of a stage being built in the sea.
Udecott granted an approval with the caveat that the promoters apply and receive permission from the other regulatory bodies such as the EMA, Commissioner of State Lands, the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service, among others.
The EMA subsequently wrote to the Udecott informing them that the promoters needed a certificate of environmental clearance because the establishment of such a structure may have associated environmental, as well as health and safety risks, and as such should only be constructed in the appropriate environment and in accordance with the requirements of the EMA Act, rules and other existing national laws. That certificate was never granted by the EMA
Udecott said when it became aware of the promoter’s intentions, they were advised that they could not build a stage in the sea.
Therefore, it is disingenuous to suggest that the state regulatory bodies and Cabinet are at odds with each other. Dr Francis has denied speaking with the Trinidad Guardian or providing any impression, written or otherwise, that he supported the promoter’s venture to build a stage in the sea. His position is consistent: he never negotiated for the event to come to Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of the Government nor is he at odds with the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat.
The Cabinet did not attempt to bypass or circumvent any of the state institutions empowered to give approvals for events held in Trinidad and Tobago. The GoRTT is assuring the citizenry that the safety of the public remains its primary concern.
Senator the Honourable Donna Cox
Minister of Communications