KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Parks has decided to not revise the age limit for Mt Kinabalu climbers.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun told visitors at his office comprising AmBank Group chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim and members of the Rotary Club of Bukit Bintang and Rotary Club of Bandar Utama yesterday that the decision to not revise the age limit was made as they felt age was not the contributing factor for the fatalities that involved primary school children when the 6.0 richter scale earthquake shook the mountain on June 5.
“They were just at the wrong place and at the wrong time,” he said.
The earthquake killed six schoolchildren from Tanjong Katong Primary School (Singapore) along with a teacher. Another student and a teacher from the school had remained missing.
Masidi added that members from the school had already made plans to come and climb the mountain next year.
Meanwhile, since the trail to Laban Rata was opened on Sept 1, only slightly over 1,000 people had made the climb.
“The climbers comprised mainly foreigners…Not many people were as keen to go to Laban Rata,” he said, explaining the small number of visitors thus far.
However, there seemed to be a keen interest to go to summit of the mountain on Dec 1, he said.
“People are even sending their inquiries to climb the mountain to me via my email,” he said.
But Masidi did not say if the maximum quota for climbers allowed to climb the mountain had already been reached on Dec 1.
Usually only 192 climbers were allowed to climb the mountain daily, he said.
However, he added that due to damage to the facilities at Laban Rata, only 125 climbers were allowed presently.
During the event, Masidi also recounted the Mt Kinabalu porters and malim gunung’s request for funding to construct a ‘club house’ for them and this request quickly received a positive reply from Azman who agreed to provide the funding.
Masidi said that they would be providing the site for the ‘club house’.
Sabah Parks director, Dr Jamili Nais, who was also present to provide updates on the rectification works carried out so far, said that a total of 930,669 climbers had climbed to the summit of Mt Kinabalu since 1993.
During the period only 22 deaths or 0.017 percent recorded, making the mountain one of the safest to climb.
Jamili also shared with those in attendance that two trails had been identified to replace the one damaged during the quake.
The trails were named the ‘Ranau Trail’ and ‘Kota Belud Trail’. The Ranau Trail will be opened this Dec 1, while work on the Kota Belud was ongoing, he said.
He added that the distance of both trails was similar to the ones destroyed although they would be more challenging.
He said, however, that the views from the trails were mesmerizing and that one would be able to see the entire Ranau area from the Ranau Trail.
The event yesterday also saw the distribution of the “Panggilan Kinabalu” fund, paying tribute to the heroes of Mt Kinabalu and was jointly organised by the two Rotary Clubs in Peninsular Malaysia.
A total of RM306,800.33 was raised from the Panggilan Kinabalu concert which took place on June 25.
A total of RM100,000 from the fund was distributed yesterday, while the second distribution of RM100,000 will be taking place in January next year.
About RM80,000 will be distributed to the Malims following training programme that was being arranged to help them start up entrepreneurial ventures with seed capital.