Security a priority at inauguration

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pretoria - Security and crowd control will be a top priority as various Heads of State and Government as well as 30 000 people arrive at the Union Buildings this morning.

President-elect Jacob Zuma will be inaugurated as the country's fourth democratically-elected President at around 11am.

According to police, the Security Services, the VIP protection unit, the bomb disposal unit and a hostage negotiation unit are on standby to cope with any incident that may potentially develop.

Health services are also on standby to cover any emergency medical situation that may arise on the lawns, where the public will be gathered.

The Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality's Fire Brigade and Disaster Management Centre have tested that all the stages and other temporary structures which have been set up at the Union Buildings are secure.

A total of 18 fire-fighters and nine vehicles are on duty while other fire fighters will be stationed at fire stations to respond to incidents.

The City's Community Safety Department has said it is ready to accommodate the tens of thousands of people. Throughout the week, various rehearsals and testing of systems were held to ensure the smooth running of events.

A total of 865 Metro Police officers are on duty today and a further 360 Peace Development Project (PDP) officers will be deployed in the area. PDPs are young people who have basic training in road traffic control and crime prevention. They identify possible threats and alert the Metro Police.
The Metro Police have tested all the routes for both VIPs and the thousands who will be arriving for the inauguration and all entrances and arteries to the city will be closely monitored by the them as well as the SAPS.

The following roads will be closed from early morning:
Soutpansberg Road will be closed between Gordon and Hamilton streets; Government Avenue will be completely closed; Church Street will be closed between Orient and Athlone streets and Hamilton Street will be closed between Soutpansberg Road and Edmond Street.

The following intersections with Government Avenue will be closed: Blackwood, Pine, Beckett, East, Herbert, Percy, Eastwood, Balmoral, Dumbarton and Nassau.

The following intersections with Church Street will be closed: Athlone, Orient, Blackwood, Pine, Beckett, East, Lisdogan, Balmoral, and Dumbarton.

The following intersections with Soutpansberg Road will be closed: Beatrix, Hamilton, Union, Viljoen, August, Well, Blake, Peter, Bouwer, Parker, Bruin, Merle, Hadley Betty, Van der Merwe and Gordon streets, and Tom Jenkins Drive.

In the event of an incident, the City has set up a Joint Operations Centre (JOC) comprising of critical functions such as the Metro Police, Fire Brigade, Disaster Management, electricity, roads and storm water, and other services rendered by the city.

The JOC is in constant communication with different provincial traffic departments to track the movement of vehicles, especially busses that are headed towards the city. This will assist in terms of assessing the numbers of people who should be expected.

The city has also ensured that the vendors who will be selling food around the Union Buildings have been accredited to ensure health and safety regulations are adhered to and that they comply with the city's by-laws.

"Overall, the department wishes to reiterate that the safety and security of visitors remains our priority. We will do everything within our powers to ensure that the proceedings are safe and secure," said Departmental spokesperson Console Tleane on Friday.

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