The Sunday Leader

Compulsory Fitness Test Draws Flak

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

The compulsory fitness test for officers from the Presidential Security Division (PSD), Prime Ministerial Security Division (PMSD) and the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) has come under criticism since several officers have collapsed during the test.
The fitness test commenced on December 7 and is to continue till December 31. Those who pass the test are given a payment that is one-fourth the salary added to their monthly pay.
PSD, PMSD and MSD officers on conditions of anonymity told The Sunday Leader that one MSD officer had died due to complications that had arisen due to the strenuous fitness test last year.
“The officers are divided into two categories – below 40 years and above 40 years. There needs to be a better system to categorize,” the officers said.
They explained that in the below 40-years category, an officer who is 39, would have to do the same tests as someone who is in his 20s, while in the above 40 category, a person who is in his late 50s would have to do the same tests as a person who is 40 years-old.
“This is not practical,” they claimed.
The officers note that measures should be taken to increase the categories in the fitness test and give the participants the best physical test according to their respective categories, without following a ‘one size fits all’ method.
They noted that even female officers had to undergo the fitness test and some of the married officers who had given birth through caesareans have found it difficult to do the stretching exercises. Some of the female officers had complained to their superiors of the difficulty in carrying out some tests.
“It is true that you can get one-fourth of your salary added to your monthly pay if you pass the physical test, but at what cost? If you fall dead, the family will only receive the pension and there would not be any increment,” the officers said.
According to them, the head of the PSD has initiated the fitness test without proper consultations with any other division or even the IGP.
Under the fitness test, each officer is given two days to complete several fitness tests.
Fitness Test Schedule

On the first day, an officer in the under 40 years category has to run 3 kilometres in 18 minutes, do 20 push-ups in 1 minute, 24 sit-ups in 1 minute, run 100 meters in 16 seconds, run 50 meters carrying another person in 16 seconds, five bar exercises for 1 minute and climb a 15-foot rope.
On the second day, the officer has to run 7 kilometres in 55 minutes, do the firing test and a shuttle run for 1 minute.
According to the PSD, PMSD and MSD officers, every officer is required to sign and submit a self-declaration stating that the authorities would not be held responsible for any problem faced during the fitness test.
“This time two MSD officers were admitted to the ICU of the National Hospital during the fitness test,” they said, adding that they might not be lucky to even survive the fitness test next time around.
Police Spokesperson SSP Priyashantha Jayakody, says that if an officer does not feel fit enough to take part in the physical test, he/she should do a medical check.
However, he refrained from commenting about the two MSD personnel who were admitted to hospital during the fitness test.
He noted that VIP security is the most important as well as vulnerable unit. “We therefore need people who are fully fit,” Jayakody said.
When asked about the complaint on how the officers have been categorized into two groups to conduct the fitness test and the difficulty faced by a 40-year-old officer to do the same tasks as an officer in his 20s, the spokesperson observed that everybody was drawing the same salary regardless of their age and that there was no difference in their work duties.
As for complaints by female officers who have undergone caesarean sections about some of the fitness tests, he noted that such persons should not be involved in VIP security.
Jayakody said that if any PSD, PMSD or MSD officer was unable to do the fitness test, they should request for a transfer to another division.

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