Turkana residents break into Ngamia 8 oil site
What you need to know:
The site has oil storage tanks where trucks are loaded before leaving for Changamwe Refinery in Mombasa.
Nakukulas residents cut the padlock to the site and frog-marched security guards after disabling compound's electric fence.
Local leaders have supported residents call for state to address cattle theft and give them jobs.
Residents of Turkana East on Friday broke into Ngamia 8 oil storage site in protest over rampant insecurity on the border of Turkana and Baringo counties.
The site has storage tanks where trucks are loaded with crude oil before leaving for Changamwe Refinery in Mombasa.
The residents had first camped at the gate blocking it with thorny tree branches in bid to paralyse operations before requesting security guards at the gate to allow them see the monument that was unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta to mark the historic Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS) launch.
After efforts to persuade the guards to open the gate became futile, some of the residents jumped over the fence while others cut the padlock using a hacksaw.
They insisted that they will not allow further oil transportation until President Kenyatta goes to Ngamia 8 to relaunch the project afresh after security has been beefed up and livestock stolen in four separate raids since June 3 this year are recovered and perpetrators killed.
Mr Geoffrey Long'olekol, a Nakukulas resident, said for years they have remained poor because of cattle theft by bandits who also shoot and kill breadwinners.
"We are here at the monument where President Kenyatta marked the historic moment for Kenya as an oil producer to pass a message that we cannot continue being killed by armed civilians in our own country and yet our oil is transported under tight security.
"Turkana has two types of wealth, livestock and oil. There is no way all this can be taken away leaving [us] with nothing,” said Mr Long’olekol.
The residents said that they have not been incited by political leaders but are driven by the pain of losing loved ones and livestock.
A herder, Mr Ekai Etudo, said the State should assure them that five percent of oil revenue will be channelled to their bank accounts.
“Our neighbours cannot take [our] animals and the government takes ways the crude oil. We feel robbed of everything,” said Mr Etudo.
The residents vowed to paralyse operations at all oil sites until their grievances over security, jobs and tenders are addressed.
Oil transportation was first paralysed by residents of Kalemngorock on Lokichar-Kapenguria road when on Wednesday they stopped five trucks from ferrying crude oil to Mombasa over rising insecurity on the border with Baringo County.
On Friday, a section of Turkana leaders mounted pressure on the government to ensure security for the residents.
Turkana South MP James Lomenen and Turkana East MP Mohammed Ali Lokiru o Friday said that there will be no transportation of oil from Ngamia 8 to Changamwe refinery in Mombasa until their demands are met.
The MPs who were accompanied by MCAs James Abei (Katilu), David Erukudi (Lobokat), Peter Edung (Kalapata) and former Turkana South parliamentary seat aspirant Jumapili Elim said that oil sites and trucks are given more security than the local community.
"The responsibility of any government is to assure citizens of their security and that of their property. Why is that Turkana residents are being killed in bandit attacks and no action is being taken?" Mr. Lomenen asked.
"We respected the government and President Kenyatta by allowing smooth historic flagging off four trucks on June 3. But our demand for security that forced the President to issue a shoot-to-kill order on bandits with illegal firearms has not been addressed and instead more people are being killed near Ngamia 8," He claimed.
Mr Lokiru said that tender to supply fuel for oil operations must be given to a local company and not a government parastatal.
The leaders said that it was ironic that Turkana East and Turkana South sub-counties where oil is found are the most insecure places in Kenya despite being a region where the shoot-to-kill order was issued.
Leaders and residents claim they were not opposed to oil transportation but they want to ensure they are heard and their demands met.