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Nation’s steel pan industry facing steel drum crisis

Trinidad Newsday
By Tyrell Gittens Monday, August 28 2017

Speaking at Saturday’s launch of the National Steel Pan Manufacturing Journeyman Programme in Macoya, Secretary of the Steel Pan Tuners’ Guild of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Duncan revealed that the Steel Pan Manufacturing Industry is currently experiencing a shortage of steel drums to produce the national instrument.

Expressing his concerns to Pan Trinbago president Richard Forteau and MIC Chairman Professor Clement Imbert, who were both present at the event, Duncan questioned what their take were on, what he deemed a “crisis”.

Responding to Duncan’s concerns, Imbert said he was aware of the issue and assured that a shipment of steel drums was recently sourced and is en route to Trinidad and Tobago. Forteau, pointing out that it is not possible to have steel pans without steel drums, said that Pan Trinbago is also doing all it can to have the issue resolved and increase the number of drums available to pan makers.

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Where was this meeting held? At the headquarters ?


It is the absence of a national strategy and plans for the holistic development of a SteelPan/Drum Industry in Trinidad and Tobago. 

75 plus years after creating the science and the family of instruments, T&T should not be anxiously sourcing drums from overseas. Instead the world should be sourcing drums, instruments, technology, training and tuning from Trinidad and Tobago. We have the creative brains, the know how, enough capital and the business acumen to do it. We just need to direct our energies to the really BIG issues and away from the 'small tings' that dissipate our energies. YES WE CAN reclaim our birthright. We owe that to the geniuses who created it and to posterity. It's not too late.

Making steel drums sounds like a good idea,

The details of this venture will reveal whether it is an industry for TnT

Is it easier to make steel drums than to purchase it? Building,,maintaining, equipping, skilled labour, raw product...

We are still sourcing materials overseas for Carnival costumes, we are still spending a lot on importing food, we are still asking parents and children to wake up small hours of the morning to catch a bus to go to school,, making steel drums sounds like a good idea, but resources could be directed towards the needs of the whole country. I love meh pan but TnT is in dire need of so much more.

Patrick Nunes: Your last sentence is a gem. Because right now "THE GOVERNMENT’S ‘hardest task’ at present is finding money to pay its public servants." ,,, and that statement came from the mouth of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. So the Government is “borrowing to pay salaries” when they should be reducing the over-staffed political bureaucracy. About ten economists of different races have been warning and warning for the last two years to NO AVAIL.

So where is the money coming from to set up all these steel industries and build a dock in Toco for faster ferry service along with new roads that lead to Port-of-Spain from that eastern point?

Now it is easy to say WE SHOULD BE BUILDING STEELDRUMS IN TRINIDAD and all that industry talk and ting. But the Prime Minister recently said that the biggest problem in Trinidad today is CORRUPTION ... old news, really. So even if they invest in setting up such a venture, the birth-right corruption will end up corroding the steel industry.

Five years ago Lincoln Douglas (THE MINISTER OF CULTURE) went to an event at the EXODUS PAN YARD and was 'SHOCKED" when he was told that SOURCING GOOD STEELDRUMS was one of the biggest problems the band was facing. Of course, like any good politician, he gave a big long speech on how he was going to work on solving that problem. And you see where we are today ,,, in dire need of so much more: ESPECIALLY LEADERSHIP!!!

And speaking of corruption, Mr. Richard Forteau said that Pan Trinbago is also doing all it can to have the issue resolved and increase the number of drums available to pan makers.

Ah think that was a MISPRINT!!! I think that Forteau meant to say " ... and STEAL the number of drums available to pan makers!!!"

After all these years they still dealing wid chuppidness.

Please enlighten me here, but were the steel drums used by Trinidad's oil industry ever manufactured in Trinidad? I am not aware that Trinidad has a steel industry. So would it not follow that if the low price of oil worldwide has caused a slump in the oil industry, a shortage of drums would be a natural (although unfortunate in this case!) corresponding slump? There really is no easy fix for this situation, unfortunately. Expecting the nation of Trinidad to take up the slack by creating a steel industry from scratch seems unrealistic. Right from the start, the raw material --- iron ore --- still has to come from elsewhere.

I did not suggest we need a STEEL INDUSTRY starting with iron ore.

I suggested we need a strategy for a STEEL DRUM/PAN/INSTRUMENT industry that could capitalise on our intellectual property and profit from the currently burgeoning steel pan manufacturing industry worldwide, which is based on exploiting OUR intellectual property and genius.

Do you know:

- that  not too long ago there was a factory manufacturing steel drums in Trinidad. WE let it get away.

-that PanTrinbago has or at least had a drum manufacturing facility. I remember seeing pictures of imported steel sheeting being received at the factory. That is something to build on.

- that importing of raw materials for a factory is no big thing.  We import peas and carrots to can in Trinidad  for export and boast about our manufacturing sector.

And BTW which rule of science has determined that the only/best/ideal/basic for OUR musical instrument is a drum that was manufactured to hoid oil and chemicals.; and which you then have to spend time and energy to cut and deal with the waste of material.

 Stalin asked the question a long time ago.

I assume the article refers to the local steel drum market , because I do not know about the "currently burgeoning steel pan manufacturing industry worldwide".

I do know that if someone wanted to start a steelband up here in New England , USA there are many options to consider , before thinking of importing the finished product from Trinidad.

These options include acquiring drums locally and contracting with one of the many high quality tuners from Trinidad that always seem to be available in the North East.

Or buying them from US based pan makers , who do a pretty good job of advertising and promoting themselves.

IMHO most people outside of the Caribbean diaspora may have no particular preference for purchasing a pan from T&T , especially since Trinidadians haven't made the effort to make the "Made in Trinidad " label special and exclusive.

Glenroy: I am just SHOCKED and AMAZED at the GLOBAL GROWTH of PAN. And to think that you laboured in the field for so long PROMOTING THE MUSIC (along with CALYPSO). You have to feel good about yourself for your dedication to the cause!!!

Beyond that, THE INSTRUMENT is barely off the ground and has so much further to travel.

You should give yourself a PAT ON THE BACK since my hand cannot stretch from COAST TO COAST!!!



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