Mount Kinabalu, Porters, Covid-19, Pandemic

Mount Kinabalu, Porters

Mount Kinabalu porters thankful for the chance to generate an income

Mount Kinabalu porters thankful for the chance to generate an income

27/10/2021 2:51:00 AM

Mount Kinabalu porters thankful for the chance to generate an income

KOTA KINABALU: After a two-year lull due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the porters at Mount Kinabalu are ecstatic to get back to their daily routines.

Mighty tasks: As porters, David and Ahineh (pic, below) are used to carrying items like gas cylinders and water tanks up Mount Kinabalu.Though the porters may be pint-sized, they carry out some mighty tasks.The average weight they carry on their backs is about 30kg while the maximum load can get to over 50kg when they have to help tired or injured climbers.

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Female porter Ahineh Dainin, from Kg Himbaan, Bundu Tuhan, is thankful to be back on the job.“The weight on our backs now is nothing compared to the weight shouldered when we were rendered jobless. I am just thankful that I have my job back,” she said when contacted.

The 42-year-old who grew up living in her hilly village is used to walking and hiking long distances to school and to shops, and this helped give her the resilience.“Of course we feel tired but it is not something that we are not used to,” Ahineh said.

She is able to scale up the mountain’s Laban Rata stop (3,352m), which is about 6km in distance, with a loadful of items on her back within four hours and jogs down in less than half the time.For first-timers and those not used to such activities, the climb can take up to eight hours or more.

Ahineh, who has been a porter since 2004, is the only active female porter left so far. The others are part-timers.Porters Association chairman David Simpat said the reopening of the tourism sector after a standstill of almost two years has brought much joy and relief to the porters and mountain guides.

“Most of our porters have been living off their savings and government grants, and doing side businesses. With the reopening of the tourism industry and the Mount Kinabalu hike officially reopened on Sept 20, we can finally breathe easy and start generating income for our families again,” said the 39-year-old.

Simpat said their daily duties required massive use of strength and physical effort.“It is tiring, especially after such a long rest but we are coping fine because most of us are used to hard labour anyway,” he said.For the 55kg porter who measures 159cm in height, it was his first day off after two weeks of work.

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“Carrying heavy items stacked higher than me and almost as heavy as I am is normal, but still challenging even after 11 years of doing it!” said Simpat, a native from Kg Kiau Nuluh located in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.Previously, porters provided services to even carry climbers who were too tired or slightly injured down the mountain for a fee.

But this service has been discontinued due to Covid-19 related standard operating procedures. There are a total of 89 porters working on rotation on Mount Kinabalu daily. Read more: The Star »

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