I would like to share a few observations about GuyExpo 2013.
1. There was a 45-minute delay for vehicles trying to gain access to the site, and I can testify to this on the final night of the event. There was a long, slow- moving line of vehicles trying to gain access. There was traffic moving both ways on that narrow road. And at one intersection, there were would-be patrons moving in between, trying to get across the road. Vehicles were moving very, very close to each other. Several drivers seemed lost as they sought to enquire from the traffic ranks (who just stood there amidst the chaos) how to get access to the ground, and asked where the ‘North Entrance’ was. Gosh, it doesn’t take rocket science for the police to coordinate and plan the best routes and make decisions to make certain routes one- way! But our police sadly lack critical thinking skills. The planners take a lot of things for granted, like people being familiar with the area around the Sophia Centre. You can imagine the chaos on Sunday night, and I presume all the other nights as well. In Guyana, we are not big on signs and posted directions. This was a major ‘fall- down’ at GuyExpo.
2. Patrons were looking for give-aways and freebies at GuyExpo. And why not? Guyanese support these companies all year round and it is at these large-scale exhibitions where companies are supposed to give back. Few exhibitors were handing out freebies.
NAMILCO was giving samples of its cooked products; Banks DIH was also giving a few ounces of its juices and a cracker or two to patrons; while another company was giving samples of its citrus-flavoured juices. Forgive me if I missed any other freebie booth, but there were not many more freebies to get at GuyExpo. I saw peanut butter being produced in the interior and asked the ladies why they did not have samples so that visitors could actually taste and compare to the internationally-made peanut butter we are accustomed to. Sampling products should be a major requirement for booth- holders at these exhibitions.
3. There was utter chaos near the Banks Village entrance/exit. Crowds upon crowds of people, just walking back and forth, I presume for no particular reason. And vehicles were traversing through this chaotic walkway. I thought these were vehicles with passes or booth-holders, but then I saw a car belonging to a taxi service. Shouldn’t the exhibition site have been restricted to vehicles? Planners take note.
4. Stench and garbage. Even though I saw a few garbage receptacles, the ground was pretty much littered, especially with the flyers and pamphlets distributed by the companies. Who reads those things anyway? When patrons collect them from booths, they throw them away. It’s as simple as that. And some bins were overflowing. There was sewage smelling from the canal near the Banks Village area.
5. Clearly, signs that stated ‘One- way’ were disregarded as patrons continued their merry way along these routes, flouting the signs.
6. It defeats the purpose of an exposition if people cannot pass freely through the pavilions and auditoriums to see and hear from the booth-operators, as well as to share questions and thoughts. This was impossible to do at GuyExpo especially during the peak hours. Noise, human traffic and utter chaos in the auditoriums. Again, it was people on parade; walking to and fro, again for no particular reason I presume.
7. Patrons did not have enough or proper seating accommodation. So you’re tired from walking to all the booths and exhibitors. You want to rest your tired feet and enjoy the scenery (whatever was there). All the seats were taken. There were concrete benches and a mounted area with the Guyana Map. Persons flocked these seats leaving a lot of persons standing. Planners take note again.
8. Apart from the solutions which have been implied from my observations, I highly recommend GuyExpo be held over a longer period. There is no way we can accommodate everyone in four nights, at least not the large population from all over Guyana which attends this event annually.
9. It is GuyExpo and not GuyExhib. Clearly, an exhibition, while incorporating the same elements, is different from an exposition. An exposition details steps and explanations and lots of information about products, processes, etc. This was hardly evident at the GuyExpo. It was more like an exhibition and not an exposition.
This is not the first year we are holding GuyExpo. It has been on for over 10 years now. We have had many chances to correct mistakes and poor planning. The police, government, ministries, exhibitors, and planners have had so many chances to evaluate and make things better. My main concerns are the heavy traffic congestion. While Guyana seems to be running out of roads and driving seems to be getting harder and harder in this place, I think the government and police need to get together and plan new roads and new routes. It is something that we have to do sooner or later. As for GuyExpo 2013, I rate it C+ because we had a lot of experience with planning these before and a lot of time to correct mistakes. Sadly, we did not.
The corporate entities just want to extract as much money out of people at these events as possible and leave with their pockets heavy while the government just allows this and returns the following year to do the same thing and make the same planning mistakes, or even worse. People parading aimlessly; overcrowded auditoriums and 45-minute traffic delays and road rage chaos to get into the site; that is Guyana Exposition 2013 for you.
In Guyana, we know the things that will make our lives easier and better. We know better ways to do things. Yet, I ask why we don’t do them?