Udecott halts stage construction at Maracas Bay

Jules Sobion, events planner and head of the party brand Caesar's Army, has been advised by the Urban Development Co Ltd (Udecott) to stop the construction of a stage in the water at Maracas Bay.

The North Coast beach was the location for the Karukera One Love Festival, a collaboration between the government of Guadeloupe and TT. Karukera is a music festival from Guadeloupe that was created to connect all the Caribbean islands by showcasing the diversity of our music on a stage on the ocean.

However, the construction of the stage in the sea has raised safety concerns by several people who took to social media to vent. One video showed a whale caught within the stage, which looked more like scaffolding. Several people were seen trying to dislodge the mammal from within the confines of its steel prison.

One man could be heard questioning how lifeguards were supposed to work around the construction if anyone got into difficulty in the water.

"That is a disaster waiting to happen," the man said.

When contacted yesterday, Sobion said his organisation was asked to be the people on the ground to produce the event.

"The organisers are attempting to build a stage in the water. I am now getting wind of social media reaction to it so I am now getting briefed on it. We would have gotten approval from the (Port-of-Spain) City Corporation, but there are various approvals from the police, fire, the EMA (Environmental Management Authority), Commissioner of State Lands. We are still awaiting certification from the Coast Guard.

"The area was shown to Udecott as well and the understanding is that the stage needs to go up early so that it will settle properly. They said it needs three days to settle in the water, so if there is any movement it will give us time to break down and move it. The aim is not to have any issues when the event starts."

Sobion said it was the first time the group was attempting such a project.

When contacted, PoS mayor Joel Martinez said he had no jurisdiction over Maracas Bay and, as a result, had not given approval for the construction.

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said he was now being made aware of the structure and was trying to get more on it before making a comment.

Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell said if the group had received permission to erect the structure, it would have come from Udecott.

"I think Udecott went over there with their technical team. From my understanding it is a stage they are building a little way into the water which is a standard for the Karukera festival which is a region-wide festival. It is not for bathers, and the audience will be on the shoreline. This is their style of events.

"They have coupled with Caesar's Army and another couple of fete promoters in Trinidad to bring off this festival. It is actually brilliant, at least from the region where they have held the festival."

However, manager, corporate communications at Udecott Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms said the company did not issue permission to build any structure in the sea.

"As far as Udecott is aware, we are responsible for the maintenance of the property. Events and fetes of that nature are granted by the Ministry of Tourism under whose purview the actual facility falls. In terms for them holding that fete and building that (stage), they have a number of entities that they have to get approvals from, such as the police, fire services, the EMA. They are the ones who will give approval for what they are building there, not Udecott.

"We did some repairs to Maracas last year, but to say Udecott was the one to give approval for that particular erection, that is not the case."

Stapleton-Whyms said the promoter was given permission to use the venue, however, when it became apparent that a stage was being built in the sea, the promoter was ordered to stop.

"Now that everybody is clear about what this man is going to do, everybody, as far as I was told just now, has expressed concerns, that you don't build a stage in the sea.

"Permission was granted for the promoter to host the party on the beach. When it became clear that a stage was being erected in the shallow of the sea, Udecott, in an abundance of caution, advised the promoter to remove the stage, with immediate effect."


"Udecott halts stage construction at Maracas Bay"

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