A traditional boat race took place on Sunday for the first time on a canal which used to be Ho Chi Minh City’s filthiest and has been dredged up in recent years.
The race, meant to usher in the New Year, was joined by 424 rowers, who competed in five categories.
The spectacular competition was organized in the canal section from District 1’s Dien Bien Phu Bridge to Binh Thanh District’s Thi Nghe Bridge.
A large crowd of spectators stood along the canal banks to cheer the rowers on.
Mai Ba Hung, deputy director of the city’s Department of Culture and Sports, said at the race’s opening ceremony that the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal, which spans several districts, including District 1 and Binh Thanh and Phu Nhuan Districts, is one of the key urban renovation projects in the southern metropolis.
He urged local residents to join the bid to keep the “revived” canal free of pollution.
The Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Development Steering Board announced in late October this year their plan to launch an inner-city river tour along the Nhieu Loc- Thi Nghe Canal.
The two-hour tour would be undertaken on rowboats, each capable of carrying 20 passengers, and was slated to debut in December this year.
A project to dredge up the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal – which used to be the city’s filthiest and stinkiest canals – began in 1993 mostly with such tasks as clearance and relocation of slum houses erected along the banks.
Estimated to cost over US$300 million, the project was then suspended before resuming in 2003.
Its initial phase was completed in August 2011.
The renovation project has given a whole new face to the canal and residents living in the neighborhoods.
However, a number of mindless locals still dump garbage into the canal and defy fishing bans.