The owner of the 4 River Floating Lodge in Koh Kong province yesterday accused a Chinese company of seriously damaging the hotel by opening a dam gate and sending a wall of water and broken logs downriver.
Hotel owner Valentin Pawlik said that on the morning of July 17, the iconic lodge was damaged by the sudden water surge caused by the opening of the reservoir gates by the Cambodian Tatai Hydropower company.
The company, which manages the Tatai dam did not alert anyone because the rain volume increased greatly and very quickly, according to Mr Pawlik.
“This was shocking news of the complete destruction of 4 Rivers Floating Lodge, an iconic ecotourism destination in Tatai village which was destroyed by the company opening the gate without warning,” Mr Pawlik said.
The hotel said it was the first tented floating lodge in the world and had been in operation for more than nine years without any problems.
The structure was carefully engineered to adapt to water level fluctuations during the rainy season, even up to two metres, ensuring complete safety at all times.
However, the hotel said that on July 17 an enormous wave of water came from the dam carrying huge logs that pounded the lodge structure.
Under the combined pressure of the water and the pounding of the logs, the lodge attachment to the shore snapped and the structure was twisted and broken into pieces.
“We later found out that the water flow increased violently, raising the water level more than 1.5 metres in less than two hours, because the hydropower company opened its reservoir,” it said.
The hotel has cancelled bookings until October. It is still assessing the damage, but a rough estimate amounts to several hundred thousand dollars.
The floating platforms are to be completely rebuilt. Tents are torn, and water and electricity systems completely damaged, it said.
“Cambodian Tatai Hydropower should have to pay to repair the damage,” Mr Pawlik said. “The company should have had precautionary measure for emergencies like this.”
“When water reaches a certain level in the reservoir, they should issue a red alert way before they endanger lives downstream,” he added. “The reality is that the company operates very close to the community and therefore must act responsibility.”
Zhao Wenheng, deputy general manager of Cambodian Tatai Hydropower, said in a press release that he released the water because it endangered the dam’s safety. This was a normal operation, he said.
Mr Zhao said that he sent a letter to Electricite Du Cambodge that morning, informing them that the company had opened the gates.