Turkana oil: South Lokichar residents seek clarity on land payout plans

A section of residents of Nakukulas village in Turkana East Sub-County on September 14, 2022

A section of residents of Nakukulas village in Turkana East Sub-County sharing their views on planned compensation for their land on September 14, 2022.

Photo credit: Sammy Lutta | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Locals want an intensive public participation process involving all relevant stakeholders, including elders and professionals from the affected villages

  • Representatives from British exploration firm Tullow Oil and its joint venture partners, Africa Oil Corp of Canada and Total Energies recently held discussions with Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai

  • The oil investors are seeking goodwill from the new county administration for the execution of multibillion-shilling petroleum activities

Residents of South Lokichar in Turkana County are seeking clarity on compensation plans for their communally-owned land that is set to be compulsorily acquired for petroleum activities.

They want an intensive public participation process that must be okayed by all relevant stakeholders, including elders and professionals from the affected villages.

Their concerns come just a week after representatives from British exploration firm Tullow Oil and its joint venture partners, Africa Oil Corp of Canada and Total Energies, held discussions with Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai seeking goodwill from the new county administration for the execution of multibillion-shilling petroleum activities.

Regular engagements with all stakeholders, locals from affected villages and leaders are critical in avoiding conflicts that may interfere with the projects, said Tullow Oil External Affairs Manager Franklin Juma.

Led by Lochakul-Kochodin location Professionals Association chairman Samwel Ariong, South Lokichar residents say they want all-inclusive meetings where residents are allowed to participate and give their views.

"Before the elections, officials from the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining were hastily conducting meetings with women and elders on compensation plans in the locality, avoiding literate members of the area like us,” Mr Ariong said. 

“All relevant stakeholders must be brought on board to avoid conflicting interests that may disrupt petroleum activities."

He called on Ministry of Petroleum officials to publicise planned meetings so that many people can plan and turn up to participate.

“We have been reading mischief from the initial meetings because some of us feel left out in the compensation plan, with distorted information indicating that coordinates for the land where an oil pipeline should be constructed avoided settlements," he explained.

Mr Geoffrey Long'olekol, from Nakukulas village, said that locals have remained impoverished for years because of insecurity where livestock are stolen by bandits from the neighbouring Pokot community and in most instances breadwinners of affected families are shot dead.

"Petroleum activities offer us an opportunity to benefit from our ancestral land, which is shrinking because a huge chunk of it has been occupied by expansionists in the neighbouring Pokot community who have also made them poor and vulnerable through cattle theft," Mr Long'olekol said.

At the recent meeting with Tullow investors and partners, Governor Lomorukai called for improved community involvement through continuous friendly engagement with all stakeholders, especially on the thorny issue of compulsory land acquisition for the projects.

In 2018, residents of troubled Turkana East sub-county broke into the Ngamia 8 oil storage site in protest over rampant insecurity along the border of Turkana and Baringo counties.

They said they could not continue being killed by armed civilians in their own country and yet crude oil was being transported by road under tight security from Turkana to Mombasa.

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