Thursday, April 9

Climbers to pay insurance coverage for mountain guides – Masidi

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KUNDASANG: Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said he would strive to ensure that all the mountain guides at Mount Kinabalu obtain insurance coverage.

The mountain guides, however, need not make pay any payment (for the insurance premium), as the groups of climbers using their services would be paying for it through the costs charged on the climbers.

“We will draw up a package, whereby the insurance payment will be covered by the mountain-climbing costs. Hence, the mountain guides are automatically protected by insurance coverage,” he said after handing out RM500 in aid to each family of flood victims, here yesterday.

However, he added, the costs paid by the groups of climbers might not necessarily increase with the inclusion of insurance coverage for the mountain guides.

On a related development, Masidi agreed that experienced and skilful mountain guides be selected to be members of the mountain search-and-rescue (MOSAR) team.

The MOSAR team was set up by the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) last Monday, for preparedness in facing emergency situations and disasters like the 5.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Ranau district early this month.

Masidi said the mountain guides would not only carry out their usual tasks but would also serve as rescue officers with the systematic training set by Bomba.

“So, there’ll be a change in their work scope which will enable them to earn more income by playing dual roles.

“This will also provide justification to review the rate charged by the mountain guides and raise it to a more reasonable level, which currently is at RM150 charged on a group of six climbers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Masidi also suggested that the Education Ministry start creating awareness on earthquakes through the learning module or co-curricular activities, especially at schools in high-risk areas.

He said this would help them be better prepared and to efficiently deal with such a situation.

Masidi said education and awareness on earthquake were also important for the local communities, especially in Ranau, Kundasang and Kota Belud who were most affected by the June 5 earthquake.

“This is because part of the post-earthquake problems was the trauma experienced by the victims until they were too afraid to return to their homes,” he added.