Lobby group protests over oil blocks ownership in Turkana - Daily Nation

Lobby group protests over oil blocks ownership in Turkana

Thursday March 29 2012

JARED NYATAYA | NATION A woman bathes her daughter at Lotimaan village in Lokichar, Turkana County, on March 27, 2012 after the commodity was distributed by a tanker. The discovery of oil in the area is likely to change the fortunes of the residents.

JARED NYATAYA | NATION A woman bathes her daughter at Lotimaan village in Lokichar, Turkana County, on March 27, 2012 after the commodity was distributed by a tanker. The discovery of oil in the area is likely to change the fortunes of the residents.  

By DAVID LOMURIA [email protected]

A civil society group has cried foul over the ownership of oil exploration fields in Turkana.

This comes after President Kibaki on Monday announced the discovery of oil deposits at Nakukulas in Turkana South by Tullow Oil Plc.

The Greater Turkana Civil Society Network said it has evidence of government officials who own title deeds for mineral exploration sites in Turkana.

“We are aware of many organisations, including churches, in possession of title deeds for mineral exploration sites in Turkana South and East districts,” said the group’s chief executive officer, Mr Eliud Emeri.

Turkana South MP Josephat Nanok, however, dismissed the claims.

He said the firms operating in Turkana were licensed to conduct mineral exploration and prospecting in specific areas but do not own any land.

“Turkana is a trust land owned by the community under the jurisdiction of the Turkana county council. Such baseless and malicious claims should be ignored by the public,” he said.

If the project is commercialised as anticipated, Kenya will become a significant oil producer and exporter in East Africa.

Mr Nanok said the discovery gave a competitive advantage to the Turkana, who have for 49 years been marginalised.

“We expect to benefit directly and indirectly from the commercialisation of oil and other mineral discoveries. Our infrastructure will be developed and social amenities provided to the people of Turkana. As a community, we will have a higher bargaining power,” he said.

The local chapter of the Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the government needed to communicate its revenue sharing plans to the public.

“The public needs to know how much the county government and local community stand to receive from this discovery,” said the Turkana District chairman, Mr Eric Emase.

On Wednesday, Trade Minister Moses Wetang’ula denied that a company linked to him sold a block of land where oil was discovered in Turkana county for Sh800 million.

But he did admit that his former law firm was involved in the transaction in which block 10BB was sold by Turkana Drilling to Africa Oil of Canada.

Tullow Oil, which struck the black gold, later acquired a 50 per cent stake in Africa Oil.

The Daily Nation on Wednesday reported that a company associated with a Cabinet minister was involved in the sale of the block. It did not name the minister in question.

According to a report by Capital FM News, the newly appointed Trade Minister said that he retired from the firm, which he established in 1983, nine years ago, when he was first appointed to the Cabinet.

The Sirisia MP said he had not enjoyed any financial benefits from the firm, which however continues to bear his name, since he is no longer a partner.

He challenged those in doubt to review the records, saying Kenyans should investigate the claims and refrain from accepting unsubstantiated claims.

“If I had Sh800 million, everyone would know. Perhaps I would have bought a plane that would make my campaigns easy or maybe I would have bought a building and earn rent so as to stop the hustle of Nairobi. I would be living differently,” he quipped.