KOTA KINABALU: A special "breaker” to stop rockfalls on the problematic segment of the Mount Kinabalu trail similar to avalanche breakers used in the Swiss Alps will be built in a year’s time.
As Sabah prepares to mark the first anniversary of the deadly June 5 Mount Kinabalu earthquake on Monday, state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the breakers will ensure better safety for climbers.
He said experts will be roped in to build the rockfall breakers that will cost about RM6mil as part of safety efforts taken since the deadly earthquake that killed 18 people.
He said there are many loose boulders and rocks at the Low’s Gully area and there is a need to set up breakers to stop rockfalls during tremors.
However, he said the new Ranau trail, which was reopened in December, does not pass through this area. A second route to the 4,095m summit, the Kota Belud trail, is expected to be completed by next month.
Masidi said every effort has been taken to increase safety for climbers, including reducing the number of climbers from 192 to 135 per day and putting in place mountain emergency rescue teams.
He said tourist confidence has improved with a total 17,274 people, of whom 55% were foreigners, climbing the mountain since its Dec 1 reopening.
Masidi also said that the state government will unveil a plaque put on a fallen granite stone recovered from the earthquake about a kilometre from Timpohon Gate (the starting point for the climb) to remind the people of the tragedy that struck the sacred mountain of the Kadazandusun people.
"We can take steps to ensure safety but nature is nature it has its own ways," he said.
Masidi said they were also going to convert some of the destroyed huts along the trail into memorials for the guides who died in the earthquake as well as for "hero guides" who helped save stranded climbers.
Of the 18 killed, 12 were Singaporean students and teachers aged between 12 and 35 from the Tanjong Katong primary school, four were local guides and three others were a Malaysian from Penang, Japanese and a China national.Families of the Singapore victims would be climbing up the mountain on Oct 4 while a special memorial ceremony would be held on June 5.
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