Lodge owner seeks pay over flooding damage

Source : Phnom Penh Post

A damaged lodge is shown at a complex in Koh Kong province. Photo supplied

The owner of the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge in Koh Kong is seeking compensation worth $500,000 from the Chinese-owned Cambodian Tatai Hydropower Ltd after his 12 lodges were allegedly destroyed by water released from the dam last week.

Valentin Pawlik claims the hydropower station operator failed to alert the management that the reservoir gates will be opened. This, he said, caused heavy damage to his facilities, making them inoperable.

The incident is alleged to have happened on the morning of July 17, when the reservoir gates were opened and gushing water swept away the lodges to about 8km from their original location.

Besides 40 staff, adults and children, including the owner’s wife and sons, were swept all the way to Koh Smach Island, said Pawlik.

He told ThePost that at about 7am, rapid water flowing from the hydropower station carried huge wood logs that pounded the 4 Rivers lodges.

“Fortunately, no one was injured as the people in Tatai Village saved their children and the women crew from the drifting platforms.

“We are not asking it to repay us for the terrible psychological effects suffered by our families and crew that feared for their lives while they were drifting at sea, but we want it to help rebuild the place and pay damages,” Pawlik said.

He said he spoke to Cambodian Tatai but claimed the company denied it was at fault. “We sent a letter to the Ministry of Tourism, the provincial government and the Ministry of Industry regarding the matter,” Pawlik said.

Meanwhile, Koh Kong provincial deputy police chief Mean Reaksmey said there was heavy rain in Tatai village that day, and policemen were dispatched to the area to help people trapped in the floods.

“But we didn’t know what happened to the lodges and about the reservoir gates being opened,” he said.

Pawlik also claimed that the Cambodian Tatai’s deputy general manager Zhao Wensheng did not know the time or volume of the water that was released.

“It is the company’s responsibility to have proper procedures in place to avoid any catastrophe as there are 525 families, seven hotels, and several small business operators located directly downstream of the dam,” he said.

Ouch Touch, the Provincial Hall director and Sok Sothy, the provincial deputy governor, told The Post they had not received any complaint about the issue.

A Cambodian Tatai staff who declined to identify himself refused to comment on the incident when contacted yesterday.

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