Kampot Tourism Takes Hit Amid Construction

Tourism around Toek Chhou waterfall and rapids in Kampot province’s Bokor National Park has taken a hit this month as construction continues on the controversial Kamchay dam—Cambo­dia’s first large domestic hy­dropower development, ac­cord­ing to officials and residents in the area.

Soy Sinol, Kampot provincial deputy director of tourism, said Thursday by telephone that there were 7,700 tourists to the area in March—down from nearly 60,000 the month before.

He said tourists have been restricted from some areas because of heavy construction on the $270 million dam, and that the rapids downstream from the 180-megawatt dam have been contaminated by heavy drilling and other construction activities, which has further deterred visitors.

Also, Chinese developer Sinohydro Corporation built toilets for the hundreds of construction workers, which are channeling human waste into the river, Soy Sinol said.

“The human waste has flown into the water and made people feel disgusted to play in the water anymore,” he said.

“The water is dirty. How can tourists enjoy [themselves] there?” he asked, adding that those tourists who do come no longer go in the water, but just sit nearby to eat.

Put Ny, 47, a construction worker at the dam, said Thursday that the toilets were not built properly, so they were flowing sewage into areas of the river where tourists normally visit.

In Sao, who works at the Moliden guest house, said they have been functioning at half-capacity as of late—something he also attributed to contaminated water.

“Even I drink boiled water, it still has dirt at the bottom of the glass,” he said.

Kampot Provincial Governor Thach Khorn said Thursday that he was aware of complaints about the water.

“I know people are having difficulty getting clear water, but we are constructing hydropower so there be must an impact,” he said, adding that they were looking into the issue.

Chhun Hin, provincial director of the department of industry, mines and energy, said that two weeks ago, pipes in the area burst, accidentally channeling some unwanted dirt and construction residue into the water.

“We have repaired the pipelines already,” he said, adding that the water is already getting clearer.

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