The works ministry (KKR) has announced that the Jalan Batang Kali-Genting Highlands route will be closed to facilitate slope and road repair works, which are expected to take one year before it is reopened to the public. Last Friday, a deadly landslide hit a campsite at Father’s Organic Farm in Batang Kali near Genting Highlands, with 24 deaths reported as of Saturday (December 17).

Datuk Wan Ahmad Uzir Wan Sulaiman, who is the KKR secretary-general, advised motorists to use alternative routes suggested by the public works department (JKR) during the period, reports Berita Harian.

He added that the ministry would conduct an in-depth study at the site of the tragedy regarding the construction of the slope after search and rescue operations are over. “Although the road is OK, we dare not open it until a new slope is made which will take about a year,” said Wan Ahmad Uzir.

He explained that roadworks was not the cause of the landslide but rather the flow of underground water. “It is also not due to illegal irrigation from the campsite, but the movement of water that we cannot see with the naked eye,” he said.

Jalan Batang Kali-Genting Highlands is a popular touge route that takes drivers past the Kedondong Waterfall towards Gohtong Jaya, but with the closure, it looks like the kaki touge will be unable to use it for quite a while.

On a related note, KKR has identified 1,045 slopes along federal roads in the peninsula that are categorised as being at a high risk of collapsing. “No development is allowed in these high-risk areas. We already have guidelines approved through the National Council for Local Government that the authorities must follow. Through those guidelines, we also put criteria that development is now allowed in red areas,” he said.