A row is simmering in Kerio Valley with residents bordering Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve in Baringo County vowing not to allow oil extraction in the area citing lack of public participation.
Tullow Oil has identified Block 12A, which runs across Kerio Valley in Baringo and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties as potential areas for oil exploration.
Residents under the umbrella Kamnarok Farmers Group vowed not to move an inch from their ancestral land until proper arrangements are made to compensate and resettle them.
“We don’t oppose any development which will uplift our people’s livelihood. However, it should be well spelt out how they will benefit. We should be issued with title deeds first,” said Kamnarok Farmers Group chairman Joseph Kiptala.
He said many of the residents were born in the area and have nowhere else to go if they are moved out to pave way for oil extraction without proper arrangements for alternative settlement.
Locals through Baringo Women Small Scale Holder Farmers Movement, a Community Based Organisation (CBO) are also demanding that they are compensated for their property including food crops which were damaged during seismic survey.
“We should also be assured of our safety on the impact of the planned oil exploration on our health,” said Ms Milcah Chepkate, a resident.
Baringo County government in conjunction with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is set to fence off the world famous reserve at a cost of Sh40 million after a meeting recently.
The residents who held demonstrations last week said despite being major stakeholders, they were not adequately involved in the deal.
“Gone are the days when a few individuals would sit in boardrooms and make decisions at the expense of the people,” said Mr Reuben Chepkonga, another resident.
The CBO is now calling on Parliament to fast-track the Local Content Bill, which will see communities in mineral rich areas benefit from 10 per cent of the proceeds up from five per cent currently.
The oil company has, however, assured residents that they will not lose their land. Tullow Kenya Social Performance manager Robbert Gerrits said that access to land will only be required on a temporary basis.
“Everything we will undertake will be in accordance with the relevant laws. We will consult with relevant government agencies, county leadership as well as the local community. Wherever possible, goods and services would be sourced from local businesses,” Mr Gerrits said in a statement.
He said local workers would also be given priority in filling up job opportunities which will arise.
Tullow concluded seismic surveys in the area in February 2014 where it identified more than 7,000 km2 Block 12A at Kerio Valley belt which runs across the two counties as potential areas for oil exploration drilling.