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Is R22m for a flag justifiable? — here’s a look at what other massive flags around the world cost

20 May 2022 - 12:00
The plan by the ministry of sport, arts and culture to spend R22m on a 'monumental' flag is under review.
The plan by the ministry of sport, arts and culture to spend R22m on a 'monumental' flag is under review.
Image: THE HERALD/MIKE HOLMES

The department of sports, arts and culture’s plans for a R22m “monumental” flag project continue to make headlines after outrage and criticism from many people. 

The department said the project, which has since been put on review, would serve as a national landmark and tourist attraction. It said the flag would be a symbol of “nationhood” and would create jobs, promote tourism and be a national landmark.

The installation of the flag would cost R17m while geotechnical studies would cost R5m.

But is the price tag attached to it justified?

Here is a look at some of the largest flagpoles around the world:

Jeddah flagpole, Saudi Arabia

The largest flagpole in the world is a title held by the Jeddah flagpole in King Abdullah Square in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

The flag is 171m high. It has been reported that the contract’s initial cost in 2012 was SAR18.7m (about R79m at current exchange rates).

Since it was erected in September 2014, the free-standing flagpole has been surrounded by 13 lights which represent the 13 emirates of Saudi Arabia.

Dushanbe flagpole, Tajikistan

Completed in April 2011, the Dushanbe flagpole is the second-largest flagpole in the world. It is 165m in height. 

The flag flies in front of the Palace of Nations. It held the world record for the tallest flagpole in the world between 2011 and 2014.

The flagpole project reportedly cost $3.5m (about R55m) and was part of $210m (about R3.3bn) worth of projects celebrating the 20th anniversary of Tajik independence.

National flagpole, Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijani flag was once recognised as the largest mounted flag in the world. 

It held the title in the Guinness Book of Records from 2010 to 2011, boasting a height of 162m. 

The construction of the flag and flagpole reportedly cost about $24m (about R380m).

Panmunjom flagpole, North Korea

The fourth tallest flagpole in the world was built in 2010.

The North Korean flagpole is 160m tall and weighs more than 270kg. 

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the flagpole was the result of a propaganda war between the two Koreas and is said to have been erected in reply to a tall flagpole erected in a nearby South Korean village.

The cost for the flagpole is unknown.

Panmunjom flagpole, North Korea; the world's fourth-tallest, 160 m

Posted by Steven Sanocki on Saturday, June 10, 2017

AND A LOCAL ONE

Donkin flagpole, Gqeberha

The Donkin flagpole is 60m high.

It was extended in 2011 from an initial 48m, making it the tallest flagpole in SA. 

The estimated cost of the flag and flagpole at the time of construction in 2009 was just under R2m. It costs about R200,000 a year to maintain.

Mandela Bay Development Agency spokesperson Luvuyo Bangazi said maintenance of the 60m flagpole at Donkin Reserve was minimal, except when the motor was under strain due to notoriously strong winds in the city.

The Donkin Reserve in Gqeberha.
The Donkin Reserve in Gqeberha.
Image: KAREN VAN ROOYEN

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