Turkana residents threaten to scuttle Kenya oil plan

An oil drilling plant at the Ngamia-1 well in Lokichar, Turkana County

Residents of Turkana South have threatened to block the planned transportation of crude oil to Mombasa if their grievances are not addressed.

Transportation of the oil from the Turkana fields is expected to start early next month.

The residents said they would block the trucks until negotiations on revenue sharing, job allocation and infrastructure deal are finalised.

Oil spills

In a petition to the Government and oil companies addressed to Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, they demanded to know how they would be compensated in case of an oil spill.

"We members of Lokichar oil basin community in Turkana South are asking the Ministry of Energy and Tullow Oil Company not to start the Early Oil Pilot Scheme until they do what the community demands," read the petition.

According to the principal petitioner, John Ekai Erika, the founder of Turkana Empowerment Advocacy Group, the community will block all operations if their demands are not met.

"The community is saying that they will protest and will barricade all roads to prevent any transportation of oil. They are saying that they know the Government will use force against them but they will not be cowed. They will stand their ground and prevent any oil from being transported out of the county," said Erika.

The petitioners said Turkana people must be empowered through capacity building and be absorbed as personnel in the movement of the oil.

"We must participate as employees in the transportation of oil from Lokichar to Mombasa. What will be our share as a host community?" they asked.

The community is also demanding to know about the environmental impact assessment and compensation plans in case of spillage.

"We want to know what will happen to our environment in case oil trucks overturn on the road or kill our animals. What will happen to water downstream in case of oil spillage? What does the compensation plan look like?"

On the revenue sharing bill, they demanded that the community share must remain at 10 per cent and not the 5 per cent recommended by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

10 per cent

The President returned to Parliament the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill and recommended drastic changes to the benefits sharing formula, which he reduced to 5 per cent.

"We are demanding a 10 per cent community share and not five per cent. We will only allow the crude oil to leave Turkana land upon establishment of a legitimate petroleum law," read the petition.

The community has in the past stopped the exploration in parts of Turkana County, claiming that it was kept in the dark over the process and what they would gain.

Last year, residents of Kasuroi in Turkana South sub-county barricaded the Kitale-Lodwar road protesting alleged discrimination in employment and other benefits from oil exploration companies.

Delayed payments by a contractor of Tullow Oil Company also sparked a protest at Kapese and Nakukulas last year.

Workers at Kapese had to go back home after the protest that forced security personnel to lock gates to the site.

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oil turkana county