Since 1806, the firing of the Noon Gun has long been a tradition and popular tourist attraction in Cape Town. The gun was originally used to signal time for ships docked in Table Bay harbour, enabling them to set their marine chronometers. But it has recently been revealed by the city’s Mayoral Committee that each daily round costs R670. Is this money being put to good use in a city severely affected by poverty and homelessness?

As quoted by TimesLive, it cost R17.70 a day to fire the cannon 29 years ago. Keeping up with inflation, that figure is now sitting at nearly R700 a day.

I’m all for tourism to help boost the economy, but if we had to break it down on paper, is the daily expense of the gun being fired covered by visiting tourists? If it is, then great. If not, perhaps that money could be put to better use elsewhere.

As a resident Capetonian who sees the homeless struggling every day, it is difficult to think that a cannon being fired for tradition’s sake is robbing 30-odd people in need the chance of a hot meal. The total expense is more than R16k a month, excluding Sundays and public holidays.

The city recognises the Noon Gun to be an integral key tourist attraction, so this is by no means a Rhodes-esque call to take it down. But perhaps more viable options should be presented, so as not to literally blow R670 on a second of tradition a day.

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