Court stops compulsory acquisition of land for oil exploration in Turkana

Workers walk past storage tanks at Tullow Oil's Ngamia 8 drilling site in Lokichar, Turkana County, Kenya, February 8, 2018. [REUTERS]

KITALE, KENYA: The Environment and Lands Court in Kitale have issued temporary orders restraining the National government from compulsory acquisition of land with oil deposits in Turkana County.

Turkana County government moved to court seeking conservatory orders to stop the implementation of the National Land Commission (NLC) decision to compulsory acquire the indigenous ethnic land.

In a gazette notice dated February 8, 2019, titled Upstream Development, South Lokichar Basin Oil Project, NLC through the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining seeks to acquire 6,348 hectares of land for the project.

Another Gazette notice dated February 15, 2019, the commission on behalf of Lapsset Development Authority sought to secure 20,618 hectares of land for the construction of Lapsset Corridor Project and Ancillary facilities.

The county government through lawyer Nelson Havi argues that NLC had not engaged the county towards the acquisition of the land and had proceeded to initiate the acquisition of the land in total disregard of the constitution and the Land Act.

The county wants the Environment and Land Court to treat the matter as urgent and ought to be heard and determined expeditiously on the ground that the compulsory acquisition of the land will displace local residents.

They argued that the petitioner’s action undertaken without consultations would disrupt the planning of Turkana County, which has already formulated its strategic urban development plan 2011-2030.