A Change of Guard

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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Chinese officials to investigate Stung Atai dam disaster

Thursday, 06 December 2012
Phnom Penh Post
By May Titthara

A worker walks near the construction site of the Stung Atai dam in Pursat province in January 2011. Photograph: Jeremy Holden/Phnom Penh Post
China has reportedly dispatched embassy officials to investigate a major breach at the Chinese-built Stung Atai dam in Pursat province on Sunday, which swept away four men, three of whom are still missing. 

Yang Tian Yue, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, told local news website Free Press Magazine that embassy officials wanted to find out the real reason why the accident happened.

“The Cambodian government regarded this accident as small, but the Chinese embassy has to go to investigate,” he reportedly said.

(Cambodia) Hydropower Development Co Ltd, a subsidiary of the state-run China Datang Corporation, is building the $255 million, 120 megawatt dam in Veal Veng district’s O’som commune.

Yue has previously said the company has been searching for the missing men while investigating how a pipeline burst at the upper reservoir of the two-stage dam.

When the Post tried to call China Datang Corporation yesterday, a woman answering the phone said it was merely the administrative office and declined to give numbers to the relevant department.

Calls to other numbers for the company were unanswered.

Yang Tian Yue also did not respond to inquiries from the Post.

Three days after the incident, Veal Veng district police chief Theang Leng said yesterday his officials were still having difficulty concluding whether the three missing men were dead or alive.

“We are looking for them... the bodies will float on the water if they died,” he said.

China Datang, however, appears to be holding out little hope for their safe return.

Chhe Chhiv, governor of Veal Veng district, said yesterday that the Chinese firm had already paid compensation to the families of the missing men, though he was unsure of the precise amount.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party whip Son Chhay said he will raise this case in the National Assembly today and call for the formation of an independent investigative committee.

“We don’t know why government closed this case, in fact, this case needs to be investigated to find the real things,” he said.

Construction on the Stung Atai dam was launched in 2008 through a Build Operate Transfer contract that will leave it in the company’s possession for 34 years after its completion, scheduled for 2013.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com


Anonymous said...

Oh Mr. inspector, here is $5K check in your name, please take it. No problem said the inspector, it is only a careless human accident, not the design nor engineers fault.

Anonymous said...

To above post,

Please DO NOT assume that corruption are always the case. Even if the Chinese errors still Cambodia needs China tremendously for our nation infrastructures in order to move our country to 21th century. We must moved on to work with PRC for our two friendship. Cambodia benefits more from China than they from us. China always on our side through bad and good time. We are surrounded by powerful thieves neighbors so we need someone bigger than them to back us up. This is the reality of modern world. Cambodia will not make it on her own with such a wicked neighbors. U.S will not supported us over A KA PEK ( SIAM). We borrowed a lot of money from PRC but this is the only way to get our infrastructures build. Although I wish our government can control corruption better. " So please don't put your foot in the water if you don't help row the canoe "