Guyana last lap for CWC
By Neil Marks
Guyana Chronicle
March 13, 2007

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THE West Indies take on Pakistan today in the opening match of Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, but in Guyana, chief of the Local Organising Committee, Karran Singh, might miss a lot of the excitement as he braces for the start of Super Eight matches with 25 items in the long list of preparations outstanding.

At a six-hour long meeting over the weekend to evaluate Guyana’s readiness to host the matches, Singh, however, said it was made clear that the outstanding preparations would be completed at least 48 hours before the first match bowls off at the National Stadium at Providence on March 28.

He said the International Cricket Council (ICC) CWC evaluation did not find that any of the preparations would not be completed within 48 hours of the first match.

The areas found wanting include external works at the stadium, landscaping, directional signage, the accreditation centre, and phone systems. He said the telephone systems would be up and running by March 19 and the Accreditation Centre by March 20.

Among the critical areas given the green light are the Trivision screen, players dressing rooms, elevators, players Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, pitch and field, pitch cover, ground equipment, practice nets and the training grounds.

The stadium clean-up itself has been completed as well, Singh said.

“Yes, I’m nervous, it’s crunch time,” he said yesterday at his Middle Street, Georgetown office, as he had his hair cut, passing instructions to his staff, signing documents, and doing the interview at the same time.

“I don’t have time to go out and do this (cut his hair and shave).”

Singh’s nervousness is shared by the entire country as the nation looks to hosting its biggest event yet.

From March 28 to April 9 areas running from the East Bank Demerara, Georgetown and East Coast Demerara would be transformed into a festive hub of some 20-30,000 cricket fans.

What about accommodation for them?
Singh makes it clear that the LOC should not be directly responsible for this, but he is seeing one critical component – Bed and Breakfast – all the way. His staff has even taking bookings on behalf of private citizens who have been registered by the Bed and Breakfast Secretariat to provide accommodation to tourists.

However, only about 70 of the more than 2,100 rooms registered have been booked from the LOC end, but Singh is looking to a rush in the two weeks ahead. In fact, he said, the LOC would be setting up an information desk at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport so that visitors without accommodation can make the arrangements.

In addition, Mr. Ohene Koama, the Accommodations Coordinator at LOC, said overseas visitors have also booked with the providers whose information has been posted on the accommodations website.

Koama said four workshops were held with the Bed and Breakfast providers, training them in areas such as customer service and culinary delights.

Singh is also a bit worried about ticket sales for the event. While he said Category One tickets and tickets to the grass mound are no longer available for the likely West Indies/Sri Lanka match on April 1, other tickets are still available.

He said while there have been purchases online from persons outside of Guyana, locals have not been forthcoming as was expected.

He said Guyanese must break free from the “cultural mentality” of going for tickets at the last minute. He said he would not like to see a repeat of the Jamaica situation where fans turned up but could not get tickets.

He said too the public education campaign would be stepped up in Guyana so that persons know exactly what they would not be allowed to take into the stadium.

However, he indicated there might be an adjustment to the list of prohibited items which state that no plastic bottles of any size would be allowed in. He said this rule could be adjusted to allow for bottles with water because of experiences of persons getting dehydrated. He said an announcement regarding this would be made soon.

Further, Singh noted that water dispensers would be installed at Providence in key locations.

However, regarding the confusion in Jamaica about the “no re-entry” policy, Singh said this would not be changed because it would put a burden on the security forces.

Key ICC CWC officials have begun to arrive in the country to assist the LOC with preparations. Among them is ICC Venue Manager Andrew Sharp. Pitch and Field and Field Consultant Andy Atkinson is also expected in the country.

The National Assembly is today expected to push through three bills to boost security for the tournament, including one giving foreign security agents special protection under local laws.

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee is to pilot the bills through the sitting.

The “visiting forces bill” will give foreign officers working alongside law enforcers in Guyana the same powers that local officers enjoy. Some of the officers will be following specific teams from venue to venue.

India is sending two bomb disposal squads from the National Security Guards to work in the Caribbean during the tournament, and most of the top eight teams travel with security staff.

Towards national enhancement, Singh said along with the clean-up and enhancement exercises being conducted by the government, the City Council and other stakeholders, he has written the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce to decorate the East Bank, Georgetown and other main thoroughfares.

On March 28 a ceremonial opening would precede the first match, while Singh indicated that the 45-minute lunch breaks would see entertainment which would include tassa drumming and stilt dancers.