Saturday, Nov 01st 2014

Oilfields fuel Pokot and Turkana dispute

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY MATHEWS NDANYI
An oil rig in Turkana Photo Joseph Kariuki
An oil rig in Turkana,oil explorations are at a high with 32 companies licensed to explore Photo/Joseph Kariuki

Fresh controversy has erupted between the Pokot and Turkana counties over the ownership of the area where British firm Tullow discovered oil deposits. Pokot County Council is moving to court to have the boundary between the two counties reviewed over claims that the oil field are within its area.

 Chairman of the Pokot County Council David Moiben says official government maps and other colonial documents indicate that the Ngamia 1 area in Turkana South is located in Pokot South but has been illegally occupied by the Turkana community. The government however says the oil fields are located in Turkana South.

 An aspirant for Kapenguria parliamentary seat Charles Chedotum said that they wanted the boundary between the Pokots and the Turkana reviewed to avoid a prolonged dispute over the matter.

 Speaking in Kapenguria town, the Pokot leaders who included professionals, said they were planning to go to court to reclaim back the land taken over by the Turkana community. “In fact according to the 1992 Boundary Act, the Pokot boundary goes all the way to Kalemongorok to Kapedo,” Chedotum said.

 “The late Cabinet minister Francis Lotodo tried to fight for the boundary review but passed on before completing the task, and as a result the whole thing went quiet,” Chedotum said.

 Speaking at another forum, 21 civic leaders led by the chairman of the Pokot County Council David Moiben supported calls by Chedotum saying their land rights should not be violated.

 Moiben said that they want the government to set up a commission to look into the boundary issue between the Pokots and the Turkanas including the ownership of the Oil areas.

 But speaking at another forum, leaders from Turkana community led by Joyce Emanikor who is Chairperson of the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) dismissed the Pokot leaders saying the oil land is squarely in Turkana.

 “It’s quite unfortunate that Pokot leaders want to start controversy over nothing. We will not give up our land", said Emanikor who is also an aspirant for the Women Representative position in Turkana. She said they too have documents confirming the oil area belongs to Turkana.

 “We will not sit back and allow people to imagine that Turkana land belonged to them when its clear that oil was found in Turkana,” She said and vowed to defend the rights of the Turkana community.