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Exodus, Despers heading to Caribbean Panorama

November 26, 2001
By Terry Joseph

Several other Caribbean countries spent the weekend jostling to help Trinidad and Tobago steelbands get to the inaugural Caribbean Steelband Panorama Championship.

With the competition final scheduled for December 1 in Grenada, local reigning Panorama champion, Exodus, and ten-time title-holder Witco Desperadoes—the two bands selected to represent this country—learnt late last week Government had reneged on an agreement to ferry them there.

Some 200 pannists, Pan Trinbago officials and instruments for both bands were originally scheduled to sail Saturday morning for Grenada on the inter-island ferry Beauport. That arrangement, made with Port Authority general manager Colin Lucas and Transport Minister Jearlean John, was confirmed by letter on November 15.

However, another letter to Pan Trinbago, dated November 22, said the Beauport was no longer available "due to increased demand for passenger and cargo space during the Yuletide season".

Left in a lurch, Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold and Exodus manager Ainsworth Mohammed worked all weekend to ensure Trinidad and Tobago would be represented at the regional competition after all.

A story on the turn of events, which appeared exclusively in the Express, triggered offers of assistance from boat captains across the Caribbean region. First to volunteer his boat Little Delfrine was Grenadian Frank Whittle who, constrained by the size of his vessel, would have had to make two trips.

But yesterday, captain Neville Wade of Dominica, whose boat can handle instruments for both bands with a single journey, offered his roll-on roll-off ferry Abiding Love. While he can take all the pans and their racks to Grenada, the nine-hour trip is not possible until Wednesday night.

Wade, who told the Express he had no special interest in pan, said he simply heard the bands were stranded and Trinidad couldn’t help, so he offered his services.

The unavailability of the Beauport also means players and officials must now travel by air instead. BWIA, the national carrier, has agreed to charter one of its airplanes to Pan Trinbago and will carry the T&T contingent also on Wednesday night.

Pan Trinbago praised BWIA CEO Conrad Aleong for his prompt response to their problem.

The inaugural regional Panorama contest is being staged by CariPan, a grouping of Caribbean steelband organisations, chaired by Arnold.

Apart from the competition final, organisers were hoping to have the T&T bands in Grenada well before showtime, for participation in a number of other events.

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