KUNDASANG: Earthquake aftershocks have delayed rectification efforts at the mountain and the park, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
A total of 91 aftershocks have been recorded since June 5, Masidi said at the ceremony to present RM2,000 assistance to 187 earthquake victims near here yesterday.
Due to the aftershocks, he said the closure of Mount Kinabalu, which was supposed to have been only for three weeks, has now been extended to three months. It will only be re-opened by early September.
He said the number of climbers would be reduced to 192 per day once activities on the mountain were resumed. This was to reduce damages to the park’s ecosystem while caring for the safety of the climbers as a new trail is being tested.
Masidi also mentioned that the level of damage to the existing trail on the mountain was more extensive than they expected initially and that repairs and building work to create the new trail were underway.
He described the new route to be less familiar and harder than the previous trail, hence the necessity to reduce the number of climbers.
Meanwhile, the expertise of the Mount Kinabalu mountain guides would be used to help identify and build a new climbing trail on the mountain.
Masidi said that the mountain guides would be very much involved in the construction of the new trails due to their familiarity with the mountain.
He also said that the mountain guides would also be the ones who would frequent the route once climbing activities resumed in September.
With their involvement, he said they would be able to generate some income while the mountain was closed for climbing activities.
Meanwhile, experts would be called to look into the technical aspects of reconstructing several routes that were badly damaged during the quake, particularly those near the mountain top.
A total of 18 people perished in the earthquake on the mountain.
Reporters were also informed by State Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman, that the State Disaster Relief Fund has already received RM2.57 million and had disbursed RM340,000.