The Forum

Turkana Oil: A Curse or A Blessing?

By Kablit Kiu Sam,

The Turkana Oil issue as become a thorn in the flesh for some people. The discovery of this Oil is not seen anymore as a blessing but rather as a problem that is pre-occupying our minds every time, it is the dominating talk in social media and on streets, the recurring tabloids on newspapers and the fantasy of every political class and it is the dream of almost all villages in Kenya.

A meeting was recently held at Lodwar Kenya Medical Training College-Lodwar on 24th June 2012 to discuss on the Oil Impact on Turkana people, and the relationship between the Government (ministry Of Energy) and Tullow Oil plc. The meeting drew attention of many classes, businessmen, youth representatives, Turkana professionals, Turkana Members of Parliament to discuss this burning issue and the controversy surrounding it. Discussions were held and the Ministry pointed out its mandate in the Oil, the Turkana people also spoke out.

Questions like how was the land acquired were raised. I was amazed with the look of things that some politicians have actually been soliciting funds from Tullow Oil Plc in disguise of protecting their avarice interests even as they operate in Turkana County.

A deal had been made between the Government and Tullow Oil concerning exploration, and the revenue that shall be realized after all. We the Turkana people are left with more questions than answers. Who came up with the agreement, how did they reach at this agreement without even consulting the Local people? Our issue arises where the Environment Impact Report fails figure out on how the Oil shall benefit the locals. It is very presumptuous of the government and the big political fishes to claim that the Oil shall eventually come to help us the Turkana people if in the first place we were not involved in drafting and negotiation of Oil exploration and harvesting rights. I read mischief in all these political games. If anything, I am sure that we the Turkana people shall never reap from what belongs to us (Turkana oil).

In my point of view, the government should not even compensate us by monetary value, let alone construct good infrastructure, upgrade our hospitals, improve our schools standards and more importantly provide The Turkana with water and clean water mark you. Statistics show that Turkana holds almost 5 million Cubic of water at reserve. So go ahead and explore them, pipe it to the furthest Manyatta (villages) as far as Kibish at the Ethiopia-Kenya Boarder. And by the way, where did the Todonyang Irrigation Scheme Project disappear? These are things the government should foster to enable us celebrate that at least we the Turkana are also Kenyans and believe that we can trust them in governing the harvesting of Oil in Turkana.

On a side note thought still very relevant, there are many cases pending in Court concerning this issue of Oil in Turkana. The Pokots are claiming that Turkana is Part of Pokot County. The other case is about how Tullow Oil Plc acquired the Ngamia 1 land in Turkana land. Questions are coming up on how a local Turkana Man will benefit form the Oil, I see a problem coming up in due course. I pose and ask myself if this discovery of oil is a curse or a blessing from God to Turkana people, I fear for the damages the exploration exercise will have on our nice full of breeze Turkana Land, the diseases that come with pollution, crime rate, immorality, land depreciation among others.

One last parting shot (for now though): it should be noted that the people of Turkana are expecting benefits from this rare commodity (oil) rather opportunity to benefit because we have rights to all benefits from this black gold discovery. I personally call for wider consultations that shall encompass the Locals, political class, the Government and the Tullow Oil Plc on the Environment Impact Report before explorations are embarked at. AKUJ TOPIA TURKAN (GOD CLEANSE/BLESS TURKANA).

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