Lamu stakeholders disagree over proposed Lokichar crude oil pipeline

An oil pipeline, The government plans to construct a pipeline from Lokichar to Lamu PHOTO COURTESY

Lamu,KENYA: Disagreements marred a consultative stakeholders meeting between local leaders, residents and representatives who were in Lamu to discuss the scoping phase of the proposed Lokichar Crude Oil Pipeline Project-LLCOP on Tuesday.

The meeting was held at the Mwana Arafa hotel in Lamu town.

The Lokichar-Lamu Crude Oil Pipeline Project is a development initiative under a joint partnership between the Kenya Government and the oil companies’ consortium of Tullow Oil Kenya B.V, Africa Oil Turkana Ltd and Total Oil (formally Maersk Oil).

During the stormy meeting,area leaders led by Deputy speaker in the county assembly of Lamu Abdalla Babaad and Leader of majority Yahya Shee threatened to sabotage the entire project if the government and the concerned investors do not meet all their demands which includes but not limited to full compensation for those who shall be affected by the pipeline project.

The leaders demanded that 20% of revenue acquired from the project once it commences be channeled directly to the county to undertake development projects.

They also demanded that 5% of proceeds from the project be channeled towards the Lamu Community Trust Fund.

Babaad also asked for more public participation forums in order to sell out the project the locals and subsequently iron out any loose ends failure to which they swore to ensure the project never takes off.

“If people aren’t well compensated or if they don’t want any proceeds to remain here,then they should be ready for our wrath.They wont like it.We are tired of Lamu being used to benefit all but locals here.We have laid our demands bare,they can take it or leave it,”said Babaad.

The leaders accused the national government of shortchanging locals in mega projects including the LAPSSET and insisted that locals have never been fully involved.

Majority leader Yahya Shee said since majority of the proposed pipeline lies within Lamu county,it would only be fair if their concerns are taken into account.

He said area leaders had been kept in the dark over the project and only got learn of it during the meeting.

“Such a project cant take off to fruition without the blessings of the host people.As leaders,we have just learnt today that there is such a project going to happen here.We are shocked and disappointed too.How do you plan to execute something of that magnitude without our knowledge or input as leaders or even the locals here.Its wrong,”said Shee.

The leaders however agreed that with the right approach,the pipeline project will be a game changer for Lamu.

“We are talking serious trade and industrialization. The economy of Lamu will definitely bloom,”said Hongwe MCA James Komu.

The project spans six regions across Kenya and will commence at a flange point in Turkana County, South East of the Lokichar Oil Fields and Cut across Samburu, Isiolo, Meru, Garissa and Lamu Counties.

The proposed pipeline is intended to transport the heavy and waxy crude oil from the production fields in the Lokichar basin to the port of Mombasa for storage and onward exportation to international markets.