The standoff over transportation of crude oil from Turkana continued yesterday as the government made efforts to resolve demands by residents, who have blocked tanks ferrying the commodity.
Residents blocked trucks from transporting oil from the Ngamia 8 in Lokichar to Mombasa.
Area MPs have said the government and British oil firm Tullow should listen to the demands by the communities, who want jobs and security, if the transportation iss to resume.
“We are committed to dialogue to end this dispute. We know oil is a resource for the whole country but residents should not be ignored. They should be given first priority in all matters concerning the oil,” Turkana East MP Mohammed Ali Lokiru said.
The demonstrators demanded the trucks be driven back to Africa Camp Solutions from Lokichar town.They held protests over jobs, tenders, insecurity and the community's share of proceeds from the oil.
Petroleum CS John Munyes, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and a representatives from Tullow Oil have been engaged in talks to end the stalemate and Munyes says they hope to resume "normal operations in the shortest time possible".
Tullow Oil country managing director Martin Mbogo said it might be forced to shut down operations at its northern Kenyan oilfields, if it cannot reach a deal to end the protests.
The protests, which began on June 27, interrupted a trucking scheme that aims to transport about 2,000 barrels per day of crude from the fields to the Coast. The pilot scheme was launched in June.
The oil is being used to test flow rates and other technical issues before the firm starts full production and before Kenya starts oil exports via a pipeline to the Coast. The pipeline is due to be constructed by 2022.
“We need to support from the government, communities and the Turkana leadership to resume operations,” he said.
The government has deployed an additional 300 security officers along the Turkana-West Pokot border to facilitate trucking.
However, Lokiru opposed the move saying, “The government should not deploy security teams to guard the transportation of oil yet residents are suffering due to insecurity.”
Turkana South MP James Lomenen said the issues raised would be resolved through dialogue. The leaders have been meeting in Nairobi and in Turkana over the dispute.
“We insist that the conditions we have given must be met so that we allow the oil to be moved," Lokiru said.
He said it was not proper that the jobs in the oil fields be given to only a few individuals from Nairobi while locals are sidelined.
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo has urged Turkana residents not to turn the oil blessing into a curse through conflicts.
He cautioned leaders against inciting communities to fight over the oil. Last week, trailers ferrying crude oil were blocked in parts of Turkana.
He wants residents to allow free transportation from the fields. He warned leaders against taking advantage of uneducated youth to cause chaos even when the resource has not been exploited.