45 km long, the Xa No line connecting Can Tho – Kien Giang took three years to dig with a bucket, costing 3.6 million francs, to become the lifeline carrying rice in the West for the past hundred years.
Near 19:00, the cruise ship named Xa No lit up, anchored on the banks of Xa No canal (Vi Thanh City, Hau Giang), there were nearly 100 passengers on the deck. About 40 minutes later, the boat started to start-up and turned towards the bridge of the same name as the canal. When the ship moves on the river, it is also the time when the artists perform the Don Ca Tai Tu.
At night, the decorative lighting system along the park on both sides of the Vi Thanh city canal is printed with sparkling water. In the past few years, the city has spent nearly VND 1,000 billion to invest in a system of embankments to prevent landslides over 18 km long, extending from the city center to Vi Thuy and Chau Thanh A districts. A 200 embankment project Another billion is deployed two kilometers long to visit Chau Thanh A district. The embankment on both sides of the canal has created a new look for the young city, like a new shirt for the Xa No line.
Looking at this scene, Mr. Nham Hung – an editor with many books on the life and people of ancient Hau Giang, said that the development of life along both sides of the present canal is a miracle.
Because hundreds of years ago, the area connecting Can Tho and Rach Gia was full of desolate low-lying fields, reeds, and bamboos, scattered hundreds of thousands of hectares, home to hundreds of water buffaloes and forest elephants. In the flood season, people have to travel by boat, in the dry season, the soil is contaminated with alum and salt, so they can only grow ghost rice to save a few meals of rice. That is the land where crocodiles “float like a guild”, tigers are countless, and forest people have to use spears with iron spikes to protect themselves.
The French wanted to exploit the fallow fields and created a waterway connecting the Can Tho river to the Cai Lon river to the West Sea. Since 1901, they have been promoting canals. Montvenoux Company received the contract, then used 4 construction machines. Each machine has 350 horsepower, 375 liters of the bucket, and blows mud up to 60 meters away. The canal route has a total length of 45 km, of which the part of Can Tho city is 12 km, dug in a straight line, 2-9 m deep, 60 m wide above the water surface, and 40 m below the bottom.
By July 1903, the canal was completed, at a cost of 3.6 million Francs. This is the first major waterway project of Cochinchina using a machine comparable to the Saigon – My Tho railway. In the History of Southern Reclamation, the “Southern School” Son Nam describes the canal from the small canal on the Can Tho side, flowing through the Khmer village. This place has many wild trees, called Snor (Xa No) in the Khmer language, so the name Xa No canal was born.
After the canal was completed, French agricultural exports would cut a small canal every 500 m, and dig a larger canal at 1,000 m along the “xom eel” way. After that, they continued to dig through side canals, closing the plots of land like checkerboard boxes. The completed canal has served to irrigate about 40,000 hectares of land in Hau Giang. Along the canals, people come to build houses and trade.
Previously, rice was exported mainly by sea through Rach Gia and Ha Tien. Since there is a canal connecting the West Sea and the Hau River, most of the rice in Hau Giang is collected to the Cai Rang market via this road. In 1899, Cochinchina exported 500,000 tons of rice, and since the Xa No canal has increased to 1.3 million tons. Can Tho alone, each year exports 116,000 tons of rice, ranked first at that time. Therefore, Xa No canal was once known as the “rice road” of the Hau River.
Nearly 120 years of its establishment, up to now, Xa No stream still holds an important position for the agricultural production of the Mekong Delta. The time the cruise ship left Xa No wharf was also the time when two 50-ton and 30-ton boats of Mr. Tran Van Ba (Muoi Ba, 66 years old, Tan Tien commune, Vi Thanh City, Hau Giang) parted the water on the canal. Mr. Muoi’s boat went about 7 km more across Ba Voi River, to Nuoc Duc River to return to his home after delivering rice to the mill.
Mr. Muoi Ba, originally from overseas Chinese in Bac Lieu, was 16 years old when he joined the army. After 1975, he was a wounded soldier and returned to Vi Thanh with his only property being a backpack toad. In the old farmer’s memory, the old Xa No canal was narrow and narrow, along the banks of the river there were still run-down houses of grade 4, scattered… From the center of Vi Thanh, people had to row a canoe, or walk. On dirt roads, cross the monkey bridge to enter the hamlet.
After getting married, Mr. Muoi was given 6 credits of heavily alkaline soil by the canal. Seeing that he was able to produce one crop of rice with a yield of only 300-400 kg, he switched to growing pineapple, which is a good acid-tolerant plant. Thanks to the combination on the clumps, under the snakehead fish, after only a few years he made a profit.
After nearly 40 years of rooting on the Xa No river, in addition to driving rice, and selling composite shells, and fertilizers, Mr. Muoi also has a total of more than 10 hectares of pineapples and is also the director of the local cooperative with 38 members and regions. planting material is more than 75 ha. The dirt road and monkey bridge have previously been invested with dal roads, concrete bridges, cars can go to the house.
“Without the Xa No canal to bring water from the Can Tho river back to repel saltwater from the sea, the land will forever be saline, the people will not be as they are now,” concluded Mr. Muoi. The pineapple field named Cau Duc, planted by cooperative members, is located on an area of 1,600 hectares of pineapple in the whole locality, protected by a trademark, and exports about 3,000 fruits every day to Can Tho, An Giang and Binh Duong.
In addition to agriculture, Hau Giang province also plans to exploit the Xa No stream to develop tourism. Standing by the pier, a pair of canals with a total cost of 7 billion VND are about to be completed, including a stopover and a system of souvenir stalls, Mr. Le Minh Dung, Director of Hau Giang Tourism Promotion Center, said the project Xa No train is a key tourism product of the province after being strongly affected by Covid-19.
“We expect the train running on the canal to be a boost for local tourism after a long hibernation,” Dung said, adding that the province is negotiating with a number of investors from Can Tho City to build a river tourism route. water, bringing visitors deep into the canals in the field, connecting Hau Giang to Can Tho, to experience the culture and history of the canal for hundreds of years with the people of the West.