The inaugural Guyana Festival can be described as highly successful.
Tens of thousands of Guyanese from all over Guyana flocked to the National Stadium over the past three days to be part of the many entertaining events that were held there.
The acting Minister of Housing must once again be commended for adding yet another notch to the many successful events that have been hosted under his direction. He is certainly a very good organizer of events.
However, the end of one event should be an occasion to reflect and analyze what took place and to begin to plan for the second edition. Some observations and comments are hereby suggested for the benefit of the Minister and his capable team.
Firstly, the Guyana Festival should not be a Georgetown alone event. For any Festival to be truly national in scope, it should reach far more persons than it would have done.
As such it is hoped that when the planning begins for the next Guyana festival that there will be events hosted in both Berbice and Essequibo so that more persons from these areas can be part of the festival.
This of course would be dependent on the business community from those areas coming on board. But for example, a similar cricket match that was held at the National Stadium could have been held at the Albion Sports complex which now has lights. Those from outside Region Six interested in seeing the match would be able to drive up to see the match thereby promoting economic activities in Berbice.
It would be nice also if instead of having one food festival, there can be three of four food festivals hosted in different parts of the country so as to give these areas some boost economically.
This brings me to the second major suggestion. At the end of these festivals, there should be something concrete left behind so that the festival contributes in a tangible way to the development of the various areas where they are hosted. It would be nice, for example, if some of the monies raised at the Guyana Festival can be used to improve the parking facilities near to the Stadium.
When this stadium was first constructed, it had sand-filled parking lot. That was seven years ago when the Cricket World Cup was hosted in Guyana. The number of motor vehicles in the country has more than tripled and therefore there is a need for increased parking facilities.
Instead of increasing the size of the parking lot, the opposite has happened. The size of the lot has decreased with some lands being allocated to certain firms. This is obviously a retrograde development and it is hoped that the monies earned during the Guyana Festival will be ploughed into developing the existing and additional parking facilities.
The police were obviously slack in allowing persons to park their vehicles along the sides of the carriageways of the East Bank Public Road. This brings me to my third suggestion.
You do not need the Guyana Police Force to be controlling traffic and security at the National Stadium. The fact that so many vehicles were allowed to park so dangerously at the edges of the roadways demonstrates why the police should be used sparingly during such major events. There is a need for more private security and for private traffic control.
Fourthly, I believe there is need for greater attention to be paid to safety at the National Stadium.
There is a reason why there is large expanse of land in front of the stadium stands. That reason is so that when an event is over there will be no crushing of persons leaving the venue because there is considerable space for a large number of persons between the stands and the roadways.
As such there should be no tents placed on that tarmac when there is an event within the stadium proper. In fact, there should be no concerts held on that tarmac because it is not safe to do so for the reasons alluded to above.
Fifthly, the traffic situation leading to and from the stadium is now a nightmare. What has to happen is that whenever there are large events at the stadium, persons coming from West Demerara should be encouraged to park their vehicles at the Joe Vieira Park and five shuttle buses arranged to move persons.
An incentive should be created to encourage persons to park there. One way of doing this is to increase the cost of parking to $1000 at the stadium car park.
Persons coming from East Coast and Georgetown should be similarly encouraged to Park at the tarmacs of the National Cultural Center, the National Gymnasium and the National Sports Hall and special shuttles arranged.
This should go not just for future Guyana Festival events hosted at the National Stadium but for any event hosted at that venue.
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