Members of the Hatters Steel Orchestra Withfeild Weekes and Pan Trinbago President Beverly Ramsey-Moore leave the old Ministry of Works compound at Lady Hailes Avenue, San Fernando yesterday.

“A total shame” is how Pan Trinbago President Beverly Ramsey-Moore labelled the treatment being meted out to Hatters Steel Orchestra following ongoing redevelopment works at the San Fernando Waterfront Project.

Ramsey-Moore visited the Lady Hailes Avenue, San Fernando panyard yesterday on an invitation from Hatter’s executive who had informed her that a meeting was scheduled with a UDeCOTT official to discuss a way forward. However, the official postponed the meeting to next week.

Ramsey-Moore is now calling for a roundtable meeting with San Fernando West MP Faris Al-Rawi, the UDeCOTT chairman, and San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello to find a solution to the ongoing problem.

Following the start of the redevelopment project last year, members of the steel orchestra were told the band would be relocated temporarily to the nearby old Ministry of Works building. They were promised that a state of the art facility would be constructed at the panyard’s existing site as part of the project. However, earlier this week demolition works commenced at the old Ministry of Works compound building where Hatters was supposed to be relocated, leaving the band in a quandary- with nowhere to go.

In addition, the steel orchestra’s site was also vandalised and bandits carted off with thousands of dollars worth of instruments.

“As leader, I will ensure we have a speedy resolution to this. I think it is unfair based on what I am hearing on this side. I have to stand with the leaders of my band if they are saying they were promised to be housed there temporarily, and right after the promise, the demolition started here. And they already brought their racks. Promises were made and while we are waiting on that, you are to take our Steelband organization seriously. I was alarmed at what I saw. For too long the movement and some of our pan yards are not treated in the right way,” Ramsey-Moore said.

She added, “It has been happening and I cry shame on the individuals who look at the national pride and walk-in and distress a pan man. Because bands are struggling on their own. I cry shame on those individuals.”

The PanTrinbago President was expected to attend a meeting with San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello after the visit at Hatter’s. She has already spoken with former MP Dianne Seukeran, who had assisted the orchestra when she was the representative for the area, for help. She said she will even lobby for meetings with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture, Tourism and the Arts if need be.

Ramsey-Moore said Hatter’s is the oldest playing steelpan band in San Fernando which makes them part of the soul of the community.

Corporate Communications Manager at UDeCOTT Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms said the company is scheduled to once again meet with representatives of the Hatters Steel Orchestra (Hatters), along with officials from the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) on Tuesday, March 23 to explore options for a temporary and permanent location for the panside.