SINGAPORE - The multi-agency effort to keep this year's National Day Parade (NDP) safe started long before the gates opened at 3.30pm on Thursday (Aug 9).
This year, the nation's birthday bash sees 5,600 personnel from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Singapore Civil Defence Force, Singapore Armed Forces and the Ministry of Health, involved in securing Marina Bay and the area around it.
Security personnel started setting up barricades along the roads surrounding the Floating Platform venue from 1pm.
Security was tight at the three entry points at the Esplanade, Marina Square and Temasek Avenue, with full-body metal scanner and bag check stations set up. The crowd queued in orderly lines and waited their turns patiently.
Over at Esplanade Mall, the queue to clear security started at the front porch, snaking through to the outdoor amphitheatre side, and along the water towards Jubilee Bridge, by 4.50pm.
The SPF's In-Situ Response Teams are making their NDP debut this year, having been created in December last year.
Entering from the Esplanade entrance, Miss Syafiqah Faizul, 18, who was at the parade with her mother and grandfather, said the queue to pass security checks stretched a long way back along the water and towards Esplanade Bridge, but it moved along very quickly.
"We started queuing at 4.45pm, and took only about 15 minutes to clear security," she said, adding that the measures made them feel safer.
The teams of four officers each are wearing their distinctive beige berets and carrying 17kg of gear, including a bullet-resistant helmet and a vest. They are also armed with HK-MP5 sub-machine guns and Taurus M85 pistols, and have been trained to deal with hostage situations and heavy-vehicle attacks.
The officers have been seen walking around Esplanade Mall and Marina Square, projecting police presence to prevent and deter any incidents.
Their peers from other police units have also been deployed, such as the Traffic Police, Police Coast Guard, Gurkha Contingent and Special Operations Command's K9 unit.
IT manager William Chow, 45, arrived at the Floating Platform at around 3.50pm.
Mr Chow, who is attending NDP 2018 with his son, younger sister and mother, said that the security presence was very evident from the moment they arrived in the area.
"I drove and parked at Marina Square. Even in the mall, there were police officers walking around with machine guns. Outside the Floating Platform, there were also police dogs."
"Clearly, there was more security than on a typical day, and I do feel safe."