The Chattogram Port Authority has launched a new swimming complex although the existing two, constructed by the city corporation, have remained unused for a long time.
Besides, the port city has some small-scale private swimming pools, mostly attached to luxury hotels.
Many people have predictably raised questions as to why the port authorities have come up with the project rather than further developing port infrastructure and increasing goods handling capacity amid the rapidly growing pressure on the country's busiest seaport after the economy reopened.
Seeking to be unnamed, an official at the CPA says port staffers always work under huge pressure. Opportunities for relaxation have not been sufficient or satisfying for them. The new project is principally to facilitate physical exercise for them so that they can get relief from boredom and develop vigour where physical and mental exercises are concerned.
However, business leaders and civil society members have said an increase in the capability of the port needs to be emphasised now. Recreation facilities should be the second priority.
"Building a swimming pool at a cost of Tk19 crore in public funds is a luxury in these Covid-induced critical times," said Akhter Kabir Chowdhury, president of the Chattogram chapter of the Sacheton Nagorik Committee.
The authorities should increase the capacity of the port significantly, he added.
Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industries, believes the port needs modern equipment, infrastructure and other facilities on a priority basis.
"Swimming complexes and recreation facilities are also needed at the port as they will in a positive way help gear up port activities," he told The Business Standard.
Built at a cost of Tk16 crore, the latest swimming complex at Chattogram port is open for all, although the primary objective of the complex is to facilitate swimming practice for port staffers and their family members.
"We are preparing a policy to operate the pool. There will be an opportunity for outsiders to become members of the pool through a provision of particular fees being paid," said Mohammad Omar Faruque, secretary of the CPA.
He told The Business Standard that the CPA would regularly arrange competitions at the swimming complex as well as at a tennis court and a basket ground there, in which staffers from other organisations of the city can take part.
CPA officials hope the swimming pool will help people, including from among port staff families, interested in rising to being national level swimmers. Apart from practice, beginners can learn swimming at the complex under an expert trainer team.
Apart from the swimming complex, the authorities have set up a tennis court and a basketball ground in the port area at a cost of Tk3.33 crore.
The authorities hope the facilities will make port officials physically energetic.
Features of the complex
The international standard swimming complex has been built on 1,250 square metres of land – 50 metres in length and 25 metres in width.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury inaugurated the complex on 2 January.
Altogether 400 people can participate in swimming activities at the complex gallery through its two pools – one for learners and the other for competitors.
Eight people can take part in a swimming competition at a time, while dozens of people can practise at the learners' pool.
Besides, the complex accommodates 16 VIP shower zones, sauna rooms, and steam rooms, which are separate for males and females.
Built by Ms QHMCSL, it also has a fitness centre and first-aid facilities.