KUNDASANG, June 25, 2015:

Nearly a month after the deadly earthquake, the expertise of the mountain guides, previously utilised in the search and rescue of victims on Mount Kinabalu, are being recalled.

This time, it is to help identify and build new trails for Sabah’s icon.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun in disclosing this said the guides were the ones who would often frequent the routes when the mountain re-opened its doors to climbers.

“They (mountain guides) would be very much involved in the construction of these new trails.

“Not only are they the best people to do the job, because of their familiarity with the mountain but this will also provide them some income during the few months before the park reopens in September.”

He said this after presenting RM2,000 in assistance to 187 earthquake victims here today.

In addition, Masidi added they would also be calling for experts to handle the technical parts in the reconstruction of several routes, especially the one near the mountain top which was badly damaged in the 5.9 magnitude earthquake, which claimed 18 lives.

A total of 91 aftershocks have delayed recovery efforts and the park, initially slated to close for three weeks, would now be closed for at least three months.

However, the number of climbers allowed on Mount Kinabalu would be reduced by half when the park reopened.

Under the revision, Sabah Parks would issue a maximum of 192 climbing permits in a single day in order to minimise the damage of the park’s ecosystem while maintaining safety of all climbers.

Masidi said the new carrying capacity imposed was to ensure the safety of climbers as well as to test out the new trails on the mountain.

The damage on the existing trail, he said, was more extensive than initially expected and repair works were currently being carried out.

“It may be less familiar and harder than the previous trail so we will have to reduce the number of climbers for the time being.”

Meanwhile, state Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman said the State Disaster Relief Fund had so far received RM2.57 million and had disbursed RM340,000.

He added the federal government had also disbursed a similar figure, through the National Security Council.

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