The 24th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which is the second largest international summit hosted by Sri Lanka after the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting in 1976, will be held in Sri Lanka from November 15 to 17. However the events will start on November 10th. Security arrangements for the VVIP’s and the summit have become the most key requirement during the CHOGM. Arrangements have been made to ensure that everything runs smoothly, according to organisers.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) office headed by General Jagath Jayasuriya is entrusted with the elaborate security arrangements.
The main event which is the heads of government meeting will be held at Nelum Pokuna Theatre on November 15 from 9.00 a.m to 11.00 a.m followed by the executive session at the BMICH.
Thereafter a Retreat for the leaders will be at Water’s Edge on November 16 which is a private gettogether.
Before the inaugural session and the executive summit, the People’s Forum will be held from November 10-14 at Chaaya Blue, Hikkaduwa, the Youth Forum from November 10 to 14 at Hambantota Exhibition Centre and the Business Forum from November 12 to 14 at the Cinammon Grand, Colombo.
Pre-CHOGM Foreign Ministers Session will be held on November 13 and 14 at the BMICH.
Special programmes are planned for the spouses of heads of states which will also be held during Nov 15-17.
The organisers have proposed a train journey for spouses and tree planting in Hambanthota. But they are yet to be approved by the Commonwealth Secretariat as the events will be held under a tight schedule.
According to organisers the dignitaries will start arriving in the country from November 9 and all the heads of state are to arrive in the island by November 14.
Accommodation for the heads of state and their delegations will be at the Hotels Kingsbury, Hilton, Taj Samudra and Cinammon Grand.
Prince Charles will be staying at Tintagel-former residence of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike which will be heavily guarded during the heads of government meeting.
Other foreign participants will be accommodated at Galadari Hotel and various other hotels along Galle Road and several hotels in Negombo.
A total of 845 vehicles bearing specialized CHOGM number plates will be used from November 10 to 17 for the use of visiting dignitaries.
According to the organisers each head of state would be provided with a brand-new bullet-proof Mercedez Benz while the foreign ministers will be provided with brand new Nissan Teana’s escort them to the event venues.
A total of 100, 41-seater luxury buses will also arrive in the country shortly for the use of other officials. Previously ordered 60 Land Rover Defender jeeps will be used by the military and police providing security to the delegations. Each Defender will consist of an eight man team.
The routes that would be closed or partly closed for traffic during the event are the route from the Airport to Colombo through the Katunayake Colombo Expressway, Baseline Road, Thunmulla and Galle Road.
From the respective hotels to Kollupitiya and then through Dharmapala Mawatha, Green Path, Nelum Pokuna and following the inaugural session the dignitaries will be taken to the BMICH through Independence Square.
The route to Water’s Edge will be from Kollupitiya and then through Dharmapala Mawatha, D.S Senanayake junction and Rajagiriya.
Security for the summit will be provided by 676 officers and 14,000 military and police personnel (PSD & MSD) while the support security will be around 40,000. VVIP security and escorts will be provided by the three armed forces.
While the specialized role on bomb disposals and routine search check-ups will be handled by the elite Special Task Force (STF).
Each head of state will be accompanied by their Personal Security Officer (PSO), but there will not be any foreign security teams coming with the VVIP’s. Roads that VVIP’s travel during the event will be manned by the police.
Speaking to Daily Mirror General Jagath Jayasuriya said that security is equal for each head of the state.
“Though the Canadian Prime Minister is not attending the meeting he is sending his special representative so we would give him the same security and accommodation that is in the protocol,” he said.
He also noted that personal security officers would be provided by the military while special scanning equipment and metal detectors will be placed at all gates and doors at each of the venues. He said that 80 foreign and local media personnel would be participating at the CHOGM.
Meanwhile the eyes and the ears of the State and military intelligence agencies are working on the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November to ascertain threats and security commitments.
Almost all the security arrangements mainly intimate security details have already been finalized.
According to organisers a proposal had been made to make November 15th-the inaugural day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) a public holiday.
The proposal has been put forward due to the high security arrangements that would be in place for the meeting. The proposal has come as it would limit the number of vehicles entering the Colombo city on November 15 (Friday) and November 16 (Saturday).
Another key factor is that roads adjoining Nelum Pokuna Theatre will have to be used for parking the vehicles and back up vehicles allocated for each of the heads of governments and other dignitaries attending the meeting.
Organizers said that within a span of twenty minutes after the conclusion of the inaugural session at Nelum Pokuna Theatre, the leaders and their respective delegations will have to be escorted to the BMICH for the executive and bilateral session. Noting that every minute is key moment during the CHOGM.
By taking in to account of the high security arrangements 31 schools in Colombo will be kept closed during the CHOGM.
Prior to the heads of government meeting, police are expected to announce a special traffic plan set for motorists to avoid the venues for the events.