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Sri Lanka police, train services gear up for Papal visit

Colombo, Jan.12 (ANI): Police and railway officials in Sri Lankan capital Colombo have announced several preparatory steps for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis I to the island-nation from Tuesday.

Police Media Spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana was quoted by the Lanka Page web site, as saying that the Colombo-Negombo main road will be closed for traffic from 6.00 p.m. today till noon tomorrow for the Pope's visit.

He said motorists would be asked to use the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway during this period, and passage through this route would be toll free.

He said CCTV cameras have been installed on the Expressway to ensure that motorists would adhere to traffic regulations and there will be no accidents, especially, during this period.

The Pope is scheduled to arrive at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday. After a welcoming ceremony at the airport the Pope will be escorted in a motorcade via the old Negombo Road to Colombo, and the people are invited to greet and welcome him from the roadside.

The police spokesman said 24,000 policemen has been deployed for security during the period of the Papal visit.

About 21,000 police personnel would be deployed in Colombo and the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), while another 3,000 police personnel have been deployed for security at Madhu, where the Pope is scheduled to hold a mass on Wednesday afternoon.

The Sri Lanka Railways said it will operate special train services on Tuesday and Wednesday for the convenience of the people who are planning to attend prayer services in Colombo.

Special trains will also be operated from Bandarawela, Jaffna, Kandy, Puttalam, Chilaw, Kurunegala, Avissawella, Galle, Matara and Aluthgama to Colombo Fort on Tuesday and Wednesday. (ANI with inputs)


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