MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Sunday, June 30, 2019

After 2015 quake, villagers wait for their river to heal

Community leader Somboton Gunsalahon says the days are now hotter.
KOTA KINABALU: Four years after a deadly earthquake shook Sabah, the people living in the five Melangkap villages about 150 kilometres from here are waiting for cooler days and for their river to heal.
Community leader Somboton Gunsalahon said the days are now warmer, though not noticeable to first-time visitors. A bigger problem was flooding, now more frequent after the earthquake, and interruptions to their water supply.
Somboton was the native chief representative of the area when the earthquake struck on June 5, 2015, causing the deaths of 18 people, most of them on Mount Kinabalu.
He said: “This area was always cold. That is why rural tourism thrived here. But after the quake, we noticed the weather was a lot warmer. It was not as pleasant as before to walk in the afternoon.”
However, the change may not be noticeable to first-time visitors, said Somboton, who owns a highly successful homestay and camping park business.
People come to enjoy the river and the stunning views of Mount Kinabalu and its brilliant sunsets. But for villagers, the river has created worries about flooding and of disruptions to their water supply.
These problems might affect Melangkap’s rural tourism business. Most visitors come for the river and the stunning view of Mount Kinabalu and its dazzling sunsets.
The Panataran River gets its water directly from Mount Kinabalu, about 8.5km from Melangkap. Heavy rain brings a heavy runoff into the river and even triggers flooding.
The foot of the mountain sits less than 10km from the village and the view is spectacular, especially in the morning and at sunset when the weather is clear.
The setting sun throws up a colourful mix of blue, purple and red hues on the surface of the mountain, a view best seen from Melangkap.
Visitors enjoy spending their leisure time picnicking near the river or waiting for the opportunity to take photographs of Mount Kinabalu.
He is worried that the water problem could one day affect the villages’ tourism industry especially because the industry depends heavily on the river.
“But it is nature. What can we do? How do you change nature? The mountain may heal itself eventually, and the river would stabilise. But who knows how long it would take, a decade or two is too soon for Mount Kinabalu.
“In the meantime, we would have to soldier on and continue with our lives as best we could. The river is undergoing a healing process and we just have to let it be,” he said.
Eighteen people died in the 2015 earthquake, all on Mount Kinabalu, and 137 climbers were stranded on the mountain. They were subsequently rescued. - FMT

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