Security drills up ahead of Pope’s visit

Kampala:

Police and security agencies have started deploying officers countrywide ahead of the Pope’s visit.

A security source last Thursday told Daily Monitor that a committee comprising police, Special Forces Command and intelligence organisations are meeting daily to map out a strategy that will ensure maximum security for the pope and other delegates.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed the deployment, saying they expect a number of dignitaries, who will attend the event, and their safety must be ensured.

“As you are aware, many Catholic faithful around the region will travel to Uganda to celebrate Mass with Pope Francis. We have to ensure that they are protected. It is the reason we are deploying early,” Mr Enanga said.

Pope Francis is expected to visit Uganda between 27 and 29 November. Namugongo Martyrs shrine and Munyonyo are some of the places Pope Francis is expected to visit and over a million people are expected to attend Mass

During the Martyrs’ Day celebrations, police deployed about 5,000 police officers. Police estimate that at Pope Francis’ visit, the number may triple.

Although Mr Enanga declined to give specifics of their security plan, he said both overt and covert officers are carrying out surveillance in all areas of interest to the visitors and the Pontiff.

“Criminals often want to disrupt such big events. And criminals plan early before the event starts. Such an event that will have big numbers of people requir a lot of professionalism, preparedness and an eye for detail. You can’t get that overnight,” he said.
Government will spend more than Shs5b in preparation for the Pope’s visit.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI was driven to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in an open Mercedes Benz car in which he sat with president Obote, while in 1993, Pope John Paul II was similarly driven to Namugongo in an open roof Mercedes Benz alongside President Museveni.

Pope Francis is known for using modest means of transport and sometimes makes surprise visits to the common people, which get security off-guard.

abagala@ugnationmedia.com