Hiking trail out of bounds

Hikers walking along the uneven and damaged hiking trail at the Cherok To’Kun Forest Reserve in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. – Filepic

RECREATIONAL activities are still allowed at the foothill of Cherok To’Kun Forest Reserve in Bukit Mertajam but the popular 3.6km hiking trail will be off limits to the public from now until Dec 12, 2023.

Penang environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said visitors could still carry out recreational activities there as “only hiking activity is disallowed due to slope rectification and stabilisation works being carried out.”

“It’s still business as usual for the food stalls there which have been given permit by the state Forestry Department.

“During this period of time, hikers are not allowed to go to the hilltop via the tarmac trail or other forest trails as well.

“Slope rectification works will be carried out from the foothill right up to the hilltop and this could pose a danger to hikers if we do not close the trail.

“In the meantime, the public can go to Mengkuang Dam nearby to sweat it out,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

It was earlier reported that 66 landslides were detected along the tarmac trail following the devastating storm on two occasions – one in November 2017 and another one in May 2018 – that struck the forest reserve and dozens of other places in Penang.

At least 66 landslides were detected along the tarmac trail following devastating storms in November 2017 and May 2018.At least 66 landslides were detected along the tarmac trail following devastating storms in November 2017 and May 2018.

Tree trunks were seen on the cliffs while exposed soil and rocks could be found in various sections of the broken tarred road then.

On Nov 25, 2020, the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry then approved a RM15mil allocation for the slope rectification and stabilisation works under the 12th Malaysia Plan.

Phee said works had already begun at the site, with heavy machinery expected to arrive on Feb 1.

He said the site was handed over to the contractor on Dec 15, with the entire work expected to be completed in 104 weeks, starting from the day when the contractor was appointed by the Public Works Department in November last year.

“The public should also check out the signboards in the area on the do’s and don’ts to prevent untoward incidents.

“Please bear with us for the time being as the repair works are meant for public safety and to prepare a conducive environment for the public to enjoy,” he said.

Located 380m above sea level, the park is the most popular forest reserve among visitors in Penang, as it received 434,364 visitors in 2019 compared to Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve (147,420) and Bukit Panchor Forest Reserve (17,486).

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