Hatters Steel Orchestra PRO Withfield Weekes shows the vandalized electrical panel box at the panyard at Lady Hailes Avenue, San Fernando.

One of the longest existing steel bands in San Fernando, the Hatter’s Steel Orchestra continues to suffer unprecedented hardships twofold.

Management of the Orchestra in a press conference yesterday at the Lady Hailes Avenue, San Fernando panyard complained of looting and destruction to the tune of $300,000, according to the band’s trustee Odelle Mitchell.

They said this situation was compounded by the effects of COVID-19 and the development of the ongoing Water Front Project.

Public Relations Officer Withfeild Weekes said they were notified a year ago about the plans to develop the area by the Ministry of Works and Transport under the PURE Division. He said the then project manager said they would temporarily relocate the orchestra to the old Ministry of Works building adjacent to the panyard until works were done and a new pan theatre was constructed for them.

Weekes said the current site served as home to the orchestra for the past 44 years.

Weekes said looters have broken into the Hatter’s building, vandalising and stealing pans, paint, electrical fixtures and furniture and other material.

Weekes said, “We were forced to give up a major part of the panyard and as a result, it is unsafe for us to have rehearsals or do anything here, we cannot function as a steel band. We started to see a lot of our equipment vandalised and we are losing items.”

Chairman Wayne Poliah said “We never stood in the way of the progress of this project, we supported it. We loan a water tank to them and a rack (road float.) We sent a letter to the office of the MP (AG Faris Al-Rawi). This kind of thing is going to destroy this band.”

Liaison officer and trustee of South Central of Pan Trinbago Rawle Knights said the site visit allowed him enough evidence to take to his executive tomorrow.

Knights is calling on the relevant authorities to look into the matter to facilitate the 90 member band before further destruction affects them.

A Police report was made to the San Fernando Police on Thursday.

Calls to Al-Rawi went unanswered.