Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai has called for improved community involvement from Tullow Oil and its joint venture partners as the firms plans to roll out commercial oil production.
Speaking in a meeting with a delegation from the Kenya Joint Venture partners led by Associate General Counsel and External Affairs Manager Franklin Juma who paid him a courtesy call, the Governor asked for seamless engagements amongst stakeholders to avoid conflict in the project.
“There is need for continuous friendly engagement with all stakeholders and this time we have to get it right by fostering a conducive environment to engage on all matters including land.
We have to ensure improved community participation in oil operations and provide that local content, which is a right for the community, is guaranteed. We have to engage with the intention to improve lives,” the Governor said.
He expressed appreciation for past projects by Tullow that benefited the community, but insisted that more was needed as Turkana still faced many challenges.
The County boss assured the partners that while he will aggressively defend community rights, he was keen to build affable relations between the County Government and all partners.
He urged the partners to align programmes with development priorities spelt out in his manifesto, key among them investment in water sufficiency.
He said the meeting was for the partners to get acquainted with the new county administration and promised more meetings in future to include the Turkana leaders’ summit.
In the meeting, the delegation briefed the Governor on the Kenya JV Partners effort to identify a strategic partner to enable implementation of their development plan, including developing a pipeline from Lokichar to Lamu.
Juma informed the Governor that joint venture investment plan will cost $3.4billion and planned projects include a bigger processing facility, additional wells and infrastructure to draw water from Turkwel dam.
He agreed with the Governor on need for regular engagements with all stakeholders, including the National and County Government, the Turkana leadership summit and local community to strengthen relationship.
Tullow Oil Social Performance Advisor Bethwel Sang assured the Governor of the partner’s support to extend initial investment in social projects in water, education and health sectors.
He cited projects and programmes the company had invested in to support local community, including sub-county hospitals in Lokichar, Lokori and Kanamkemer; 30 boreholes, construction of schools, bursaries and scholarships, partnership with KCB Foundation on secondary school sponsorship.
The team promised to work closely with communities to identify priority areas the company will invest in, to build capacity for the community to take advantage of emerging opportunities from oil development.
Deputy Governor Dr. John Erus, County Secretary Peter Eripete, Advisor on Extractives Iris Mariao, Africa Oil General Manager Eng. Donald Mahaga and Total Energies In-Country Manager Purity Karau took part in the discussions.
By Peter Gitonga