Evacuated workers delay resumption of oil transport from Turkana

Thursday July 12 2018

Tullow workers at Changamwe refinery checking seals on a truck before offloading crude oil from Lokichar in Turkana. Planned resumption of oil trucking from Turkana to Mombasa will be delayed as Tullow awaits the return of workers evacuated following the disruptions last week. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The planned resumption of oil trucking from Turkana to Mombasa will be delayed as the mining company awaits the return of workers evacuated following the disruptions last week.

Residents and elected leaders blocked five lorries last week, protesting failure by the government to stop banditry on the Turkana-Baringo border, and lack of jobs for locals.

After a meeting on Thursday attended by Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes and Rift Valley Regional Coordinator, Mongo Chimwanga, at Lokori in Turkana East, the leaders led by Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok agreed to persuade the residents to allow the lorries to proceed to Mombasa.


It was also agreed that oil transportation would resume this week.

Mr Munyes said on Tuesday that Tullow Oil was still waiting for evacuated workers to return.


"We have agreed with Turkana leaders to resume oil transportation; but we cannot do it tomorrow. Logistically we must ensure that workers directly involved in the operations return to the site. Some had flown outside the country," said the CS by phone Thursday.

During the demonstrations last week, some residents broke into the oil mining sites, leading to the evacuations.

Mr Munyes, who is from Turkana, said local leaders had been sensitising residents on the deal struck with the national government that allowed the oil transportation programme to continue.


He said his ministry is concerned about "the local content" that comprises jobs, tenders and support for the host community.

He added that the ministry would hold a conference Friday to discuss issues such as sharing of revenue.

The meeting is expected to establish systems of dealing with grievances so that conflicting issues don't get out of hand to a level where oil trucks are blocked from heading to Mombasa's Changamwe refinery.

Mr Munyes said he was keen on enhancing community engagement, especially through sensitisation on the second phase, noting that the country has spent Sh200 billion in the first phase of the early oil pilot scheme.

"We are about to pump in Sh300 billion into the second phase that includes a pipeline from Lokichar to the Port of Lamu. This expensive investment will require the support of everybody," he said.


On security, the State has vowed to ensure frequent patrols on the borders be-tween warring communities and to review deployment of specialised security personnel and National Police Reservists within Turkana.

The Rift Valley Regional commissioner said Turkana East Sub County has 251 extra police reservists while Turkana South has 318 national police reservists, boosted by specialised units of General Police Unit and Rapid Development Unit. Turkana County Commissioner Seif Matata confirmed that security had been beefed up.


The leaders had, however, requested the State to review the borders of local administrative units, saying some villages and sub locations in Turkana have two chiefs, one from Turkana community and the other from Pokot community.

Baringo, Turkana and West Pokot County Commissioners, as well as the local administrators, were told to review their areas of operations to tackle duplication of administrative units.

He said that after the attack on Lokori, they are currently reviewing security deployment at the scene and along the border in efforts to boost security.