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Mayor’s premature detonation catches Cape Town by surprise

Mayor’s premature detonation catches Cape Town by surprise

Considering the amount of planning that went into the event, everyone was expecting exact timing in the demolition of Cape Town's landmark cooling towers. But the slightly damp in-person crowd didn't complain too much about the early finish.

Capetonians turned out in their thousands to watch their salt-and-pepper shakers, the old Athlone cooling towers, imploded. Low-hanging mist foiled those who had planned to watch the explosion from the top or higher slopes of Table Mountain, but the two official viewing sites were packed, and crowds of all ages thronged the University of Cape Town campus and nearby bridges and overpasses with good views.

Only to walk away alternating between cursing and praising Cape Town mayor Dan Plato and his early detonation.

Watch: Athlone cooling towers demolition from Zoopy:

Though scheduled for noon precisely, the implosion actually came a couple of minutes early. Which would probably have universally annoyed everyone in attendance – the photographers still setting up, the mothers still distracting their toddlers, those focussed on their portable radios or sending SMSes to their friends. But a brief squall of rain a couple of minutes earlier and accompanying chilly winds, had dampened spirits somewhat. Though they had been dribbling in for hours, some with chairs and picnic baskets (though no umbrellas, thanks to earlier sunshine that had promised a beautiful day), the crowds dispersed in record time. With the whole edifice coming down in just 30 seconds, some said they’d be rushing home to watch replays on television or online.

All the children polled by The Daily Maverick were distinctly underwhelmed by the whole event, stressing the inconvenience of being dragged out of the house in the cold and wet rather than much awe at the event.

Though the towers had been considered a blight on the skyline for most of their five decades of existence, the locals turned strangely misty-eyed at the thought that they would soon be gone. For much of the weekend many motorists made a point of stopping at good viewing sites along the road and taking pictures of one another posed with the towers in the background. And some made sure to also document their kids and dogs, and sometimes even their cars, with the towers in evidence.

By Phillip de Wet

Photos: The Daily Maverick


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