THE EDITOR, Sir:
Last Saturday, I attended the one-day international at Sabina Park to see our West Indies cricket team play against a watered-down New Zealand outfit. Getting into the stadium was one of the most arduous experiences I have had while attending a sporting event. There was one meandering line for people with tickets, and there were several lines for those seeking to purchase same. The lines for ticket purchases were going nowhere fast.
Although there were challenges in entering the stadium, my most serious concern was the exiting of the sports ground. I watched the game from the George Headley Stand, and while exiting, I was surprised to encounter only one open gate - the half side of a gate.
This behaviour should be against the law. The crowd was backed up against the stairways.
What if a stampede occurred? We would have several people being crushed. I enquired the reason for the exit restrictions from one of the police officers nearby, but got no response.
I have experienced similar exit restrictions at the National Stadium, and this policy is dangerous and a threat to life and limb. At the end of large events at these stadia, people are always streaming out and searching for exits to reach their final destinations.
If entities continue to restrict spectators from leaving venues in an orderly manner by closing or blocking exits, this behaviour will lead to serious consequences, including death.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management was subsequently contacted, and I was informed that no policy or law exists in reference to the number of exits that should be open after a public or private event. The agency also said that meetings are held two to three weeks before an event to estimate the number of attendees to an event; the number of available exits is then based on the outcome.
The aforementioned sounds like a lot of bureaucratic shenanigans; we are playing with people's lives. These establishments need to just fly the gates at the end of every event.