FIREFIGHTERS and other safety officials were kept busy last night trying to keep things in order at the National Stadium after multiple safety precautions were breached by Jamaicans desperate to get into the Grand Gala.
At 8:00 pm, nearly three hours after the festivities started, firefighters were escorting persons from the venue, which they said was packed beyond capacity.
Persons nearest to the entrances and those standing in aisles were the first asked to leave. This while hundreds of other Jamaicans converged on various checkpoints outside in Independence Park begging officials to allow them entry.
Most had tickets in hand, but this was irrelevant, shouted officials who tried arduously to explain the situation inside.
"We came here at 5:00 pm, my husband and I, and when we came they (officials) said the gates were closed so we couldn't get in," said one woman fuming amidst the boorish crowd at a checkpoint outside the Grand Stand. She had her ticket in hand.
"This is typical Jamaica; this ticket thing was just a scam because everywhere (gate) we go is closed," another lady hissed after she was turned away by officials at Gate 1.
The officials, reeling expletives at the crowd, ordered the persons to watch the activities on big screens erected inside the Independence Park.
A Mr Brown, one of the officials manning an entrance to the Grand Stand, fumed as he explained to the Jamaica Observer that things went awry when persons started pushing down barriers erected to control the crowd.
Asked why were there so many persons outside with tickets, yet the stadium was full to capacity, Brown replied "There may be two causes for that, but I cannot say which one happened here."
"It could be that more tickets were printed than the (stadium) capacity... or there might have been some forgery involved," he said, adding that adequate measures were put in place to detect any forgery.
He, however, could not say if any forged tickets were detected at the gates.
Ironically, while fire-fighters were escorting persons from the stadium, hustlers outside were busy selling tickets to unsuspecting persons arriving at the venue. Tickets were being sold for as much as $1,000.