IT is supposed to be a walk amidst lush greenery and natural beauty with air that’s refreshing and revitalising for body and mind.
Avid hikers are, however, finding this to be contradictory the moment they start their walk from the entrance of the Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang.
Some are beginning to walk out on the park. For them, the sight and smell of rubbish strewn indiscriminately and piling up along the route is just too much to bear.
A check found discarded plastic and glass bottles, aluminium cans, polystyrene food packaging, plastic bags and straws along the trail leading towards Pantai Kerachut or Monkey Beach.
This reporter even saw a gas cylinder, huge plastic containers, empty aerosol containers and a broken-down trash bin chucked into the overgrowth near the beach.
Rubbish was even scattered all over the beach a stone’s throw away from the Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies.
The 1.213ha national park, that was gazetted on April 10, 2003, underwent major upgrading works under the Eighth and Ninth Malaysia Plans that ended in 2009.
The makeover transformed the Teluk Bahang entrance to the park into an impressive administration area with a fresh, modern facade comprising an office, information and registration counter as well as an interactive Interpretation Centre and Exhibition Gallery.
A canopy walk was also created at nearby Sungai Tukun.
Veteran hiker Gurdial Singh, 55, however, finds the park’s cleanliness, deplorable.
“I am disgusted by the poor upkeep. Tourists, let alone locals, have made remarks about the unpleasant sight.
“The authority concerned should do better than this. It is highly unlikely that they have not seen rubbish strewn along the trail,” he said.
“This is Visit Malaysia Year 2014 and our tourist attraction is littered with rubbish. This is a popular spot but its cleanliness leaves much to be desired,” he said when met at the scene on Tuesday.
“Such a sorry state will have serious impact on the environment,” he added.
“Besides being an eyesore, the pollution is a threat to the turtles and other wildlife species in the park.
“Stagnant water in bottles has turned into breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“Campers should play their part by not leaving behind their rubbish or throwing them into the park,” he said.
Another avid hiker Darren Lim, 31, said the ugly face of the park ran contrary to the state government’s motto of a cleaner, greener, safer and healthier Penang.
Penang National Park superintendent Saat Yaakob, when asked for comments on the matter, said he would conduct a site inspection on the alleged complaints.
“We appointed a new contractor on Jan 1 to oversee the cleanliness and upkeep of the park.
“We will ask the contractor to clean up the area if the complaints are found to be true. We will also seek the assistance of the Penang Municipal Council to help clean the beach.
“At the same time, I also want to thank the public for being the eyes and ears for us.
“We have only a small team and it is an arduous task to take care of such a big area.
“The public and tourists need to play a part in maintaining cleanliness in the area.
“This is a prized area where one can see the rich fauna and enjoy the natural surroundings,” he said.