Maracas stage removed to shore

“The stage gone good again!”

So quipped the promoters of the upcoming Karukera One Love Beach Festival yesterday as they reported to the Express that the event is still on and the controversial stage they began constructing in the sea at Maracas Bay last week will be removed and relocated to the shoreline.

“Most definitely the event is still on. It has never been a question. The question was on me if the stage will be in the sea or on the land but the fete is still on and it has never been shut down by any authority,” Karukera co-founder Thierry Reynaud said in telephone interview on Monday.

Reynaud said the Karukera promoters and its engineers met at the festival site yesterday morning with representatives from the Ministry of Culture, the office of the Commissioner of State Lands, lifeguards and the chief executive officer of the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation.

“Everybody was on site this morning and we decided all together to move the stage out of the sea and we found a way to make everybody comfortable and happy. We found a way to put the stage not far from the shore,” Reynaud said.

He added “The stage gone good again. But the important thing is that everybody is happy. We are happy as promoters because we invested two years of hard work, lots of personal investments, private investments. The authorities were partners…the Ministry of Tourism, the San Juan/Laventille Corporation, the Ministry of Tourism of France. We are really happy that everybody is comfortable and everybody has a smile on their face again.”

The Karukera beach festival is carded for Friday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Questions were raised last Friday about who authorised the festival promoters to construct a fete stage in the sea at Maracas.

The Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago said it granted approval for the event to be hosted at the beach but was against the location of the stage.

Chief Fire Officer Marlon Smith also said the promoters were given permission to host the event, but no such approval was granted for the stage in the sea.

And on Sunday, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat said he had instructed the Commissioner of State Lands (COSL) to deny the promoters permission to construct the structure on the seabed.

The Office of the Commissioner of State Lands which falls under the purview of Ministry, is responsible for the administration of State land, including the issuing of licenses, rights of way, special permissions, leases and agreements.

Reynaud maintained yesterday that the Karukera team applied and received the necessary approvals to host the event.

Asked if permission was granted to construct a stage in the sea, he responded:

“Concerning the stage in the sea it has raised a general concerns with the public, but we always complied with all the necessary obligations for the approvals.”

According to documents the Express received, on February 6 acting COSL Bhanmati Seecharan wrote to one of the festival promoters acknowledging that it had received a proposal for the construction of the stage on the foreshore and on the “immediate seabed”.

The COSL noted that once approval was granted by all statutory bodies and contingency plans were in place for any eventuality, it had no objection to the construction of the stage.

The COSL noted, however, that it had no competent authority to pronounce on the safety of the stage.

It went on to advise the organisers to “present an adequate certification of safety to this Division upon completion of the construction, indicating that the stage is safe and fit for purpose”.

Documents the Express received showed that the festival organisers were granted clearance from the Environmental Management Authority.

Reynaud said since 2017 the Karukera team has been successfully hosting the event in many countries, without any hiccups.

“When you see our line-up we try to have an ambassador from every island. We have Machel (Montano), Nailah (Blackman) and Kees (Dieffenthaller) from Trinidad, you have Afro B from Africa, Motto from St Lucia, Skinny Fabulous from St Vincent, Marzville from Barbados and DJ Ben from France, who is a French producer and DJ. So we try to connect and make that experience where everybody will share their culture and everybody will win something out of it,” he added.

Reynaud said he understands the concern of the authorities because it’s a new concept.

“Everywhere we go we have the same process of understanding and making ourselves understood and that people will feel comfortable with the stage in the sea. So we are really happy that we are still having the first set in Trinidad. This year we are very happy that we could work together with all the authorities in finding a solution that makes everybody comfortable at this point,” he said.

Trinidad Express

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