Anyway, with all that said I must confess that I had never visited the new airport until last Sunday night. It was an interesting but not impressive experience. If I had to describe the new airport facility in a single word the word would be soulless.
The heavy use of grey, on the floors and elsewhere, is uninspiring and reminiscent of the décor of many government buildings. The internal signage and advertising for the most part looks tacky and like an afterthought, manufactured when the budget was almost used up.
The metal decorative trim above the check in desks is reminiscent of a palisade fence that has been turned on its side. Apt maybe, but ugly nonetheless. The external signage is mostly notable by its absence and the signs that do exist have such small writing that you are right in an intersection before knowing which way to turn.
If the signs were bigger and mounted overhead (like at the old airport), it would be possible to plan ahead and get into the right lane in time. Finding my way into the parkade for the first time was a bit tricky and I do not remember ever struggling as much at the old airport or even at its counterpart in Johannesburg.
My single biggest disenchantment though was the lack of a viewing deck. An airport is just not the same if you are unable to see the aircraft come and go on the runway. Possibly this is why the place felt so soulless to me, it's like going to a harbour and not being able to see a single ship. The overall impression is a cross between a home affairs office and a large, ugly shopping mall.
Talk about even more wastage of taxpayers money (approx. 3 million rand was paid for the statue). Perhaps there should have been a statue of a large white elephant instead. Although, come to think of it, when Andries Botha (the same sculptor who created the Shaka statue) was commissioned to create a series of elephant sculptures at Warwick Junction, at a cost of 1,5 million rand, they were also removed after complaints from certain individuals within the ANC that the elephant is a symbol of rival political party, the IFP.
Don't get me wrong, I'm loving being back and living in Durban. What I'm not loving is the ineptitude and willingness to waste public funds of so many local officials. Perhaps both statues should be replaced with images of a circus tent and a headless chicken...