On 24 and 25 March the Netherlands will welcome 58 world leaders, 5,000 delegates and 3,000 journalists to the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), the largest gathering of its kind ever held in this country. To ensure that everything runs smoothly and safely, certain security- and traffic-related measures will have to be taken. The authorities are doing their utmost to ensure that any inconvenience to the public is kept to a minimum. Nevertheless, motorists travelling between Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam should be prepared for severe disruptions. The same applies to the area around Wassenaar, Leiden, Katwijk, Noordwijk, the ‘Bollenstreek’ and Haarlemmermeer.
At times of peak travel, there will be a ‘rush hour over and above the regular rush hour’. The director-general of Rijkswaterstaat Jan Hendrik Dronkers has said, ‘Our advice is not to go to this part of the Randstad on Monday 24 March and Tuesday 25 March, if you don’t absolutely have to. If possible, try to work from home or some other location.’
People who do need to be in The Hague, at Schiphol or in the surrounding area are advised to avoid travelling during rush hour. Before departing, go to www.vananaarbeter.nl (in Dutch), check the latest traffic information and follow any diversions you might encounter. If you have to travel during rush hour, the best option is the train. During morning and evening rush hour, longer trains will run between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. NS, ProRail and Rijkswaterstaat will also be mobilising additional staff and equipment to keep any disruption to a bare minimum.
For the first time ever, the police will set up a national traffic control centre, which will also involve Rijkswaterstaat. This way, the authorities can respond quickly to the effects of traffic measures, thus ensuring that the circulation of traffic is as close to normal as possible.
There will be a large police presence during the summit, with four times as many officers on duty as during the investiture on 30 April 2013. The police will mainly be visible on the roads, escorting delegations through traffic, and in cities where delegates are staying. The police will also be taking non-visible security measures. Contingency plans will be in place to respond to any unexpected incidents elsewhere in the country.
According to Deputy Chief of the National Police Ruud Bik, ‘Many people are going to be affected by this summit. We realise that. At the same time we’re proud to be doing what we can to ensure that everything proceeds in a safe, dignified manner, without any hitches. We’re accomplishing this by being both alert and approachable.’
There will also be certain restrictions in place for Dutch airspace and territorial waters. The use of recreational aircraft, such as light planes and hot-air balloons, will not be permitted in the Randstad or anywhere in the vicinity during the summit. As usual, the Ministry of Defence will be responsible for monitoring and securing the Netherlands’ airspace. Airplanes and helicopters will be on stand-by for possible interceptions. There will also be air defence systems stationed at a number of places along the coast.
In the view of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, Dick Schoof, a summit of this scope ‘entails certain steps. We are trying to strike the right balance. Without compromising our security, we’re attempting to keep any inconvenience to a minimum by taking the right measures in the right proportions.’
The Polder runway at Schiphol will be used for parking aircraft carrying world leaders and their delegations. Preparations for this will start on 10 March. From that time, runway usage patterns will change, and as a result, the public may notice variations in the noise level. Following the summit regular maintenance work will be carried out on the Polder runway.
During the NSS, the Netherlands’ North Sea waters will be kept as free from traffic as possible. The harbour at Scheveningen will remain accessible, and maritime traffic further than one kilometre offshore will proceed as normal. The Netherlands’ territorial waters between Monster and Zandvoort will be a secure maritime zone, in which all ships must submit certain details (name, cargo and owner) to the authorities. Naval and police vessels will monitor shipping traffic off the coast of Scheveningen and Noordwijk. In addition, the accessibility of certain beaches around hotels may be restricted.
The summit is being held at the World Forum in The Hague. The municipality has already informed local residents and businesses about accessibility and security issues. Peter Smit, a member of the Hague municipal executive, has said, ‘Time and again, in our preparations for the summit, we’ve taken a close look at the trade-off between security and accessibility. Despite that, there will be major disruptions to road traffic, and possibly other aspects of daily life, during those days. If at all possible, leave your car at home and take public transport or your bike.’ Up-to-date traffic information can be found at www.denhaag.nl/nss2014.
Mr Smit went on to say, ‘If everyone makes an effort to stay well-informed, the city will function just fine. The Hague is the international city of peace and justice, a natural location for this international summit. By hosting the NSS, we are contributing to the global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism. We look forward to welcoming world leaders to our city.’
For the most up to date information on traffic measures and accessibility, please go to the following sites: