GUA MUSANG: The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department began sending 21 tonnes of food supply for 1,400 Orang Asli families in several posts here.

The aid was sent to the Orang Asli settlements, including Pos Gob, Pos Belatim, Pos Bihai, Pos Balar and surrounding villages, using the Mi-17-IV helicopter after the logging roads were severely damaged due to heavy rain.

Nenggiri assemblyman Ab Aziz Yusoff said the service of the department’s Air Unit was needed because the villages were no longer accessible via land routes.

“When the roads were cut off, the Orang Asli community ran out of food supplies because their tuber crops were also damaged by elephants.

“Today, we will deliver food supplies to the most remote villages, namely Kampung Gawin involving 43 families and then to Kampung Gob which has 144 families,” he told reporters on Sunday (Dec 25).

Ab Aziz said if the weather permits, the team would continue sending food supplies to Kampung Simpor and Kampung Jader which have a total of 232 families.

“It is hoped that the food aid, which includes rice, sugar, biscuits, sardines and wheat flour, will be able to meet their needs while waiting for the weather to improve,” he said.

Meanwhile, the department’s Senior Asst Supt Mohd Azuna Mohamed Sabri said all nine crews had been involved in a flood relief mission in Wakaf Tapai, Terengganu since last week before arriving in Gua Musang to deliver aid in this district.

“The delivery of food supplies to the Orang Asli settlements will take at least five days to complete. We planned to start yesterday, but because of the bad weather, we can only fly out today,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa), in a statement, said that the food basket delivery would be carried out until Dec 30, involving Pos Bihai with 304 household heads, Pos Balar (223), Pos Simpor (210), Pos Gob (187) and Pos Belatim (185).

According to Jakoa, the delivery of food baskets was indeed in the plan but could not be executed earlier as the Fire Department helicopters were deployed to flood-hit areas in Kelantan and Terengganu.

At the same time, the delivery could not be made by land vehicles due to the poor road conditions and landslide between Pos Balar and Pos Belatim near Kampung Dakoh.

In this regard, the department had discussed land clearing and slope repair works with the Public Works Department and South Kelantan Development Authority (Kesedar).

However, according to Jakoa, the work may not be able to be carried out soon given the condition of the road and the ongoing bad weather, thus making it difficult for heavy machinery to enter and reach the area.- Bernama