Lamu residents bar Lands commission from handling land acquisitions

Lamu residents follow proceedings during the special sitting on Thursday PHOTO NATASHA NEMA

Lamu,KENYA: Lamu locals have said they no longer want the National Lands Commission-NLC to be part of any procedures for the acquisition of land for the establishment of the Lokichar-Lamu Crude oil pipeline in the region.

Speaking at the Mwana Arafa Hotel in Lamu town on Thursday during a special sitting to determine the various effects of the project in the region,the residents said they no longer have faith in the NLC as such would not want the commission to play any part in the acquisition of lands for the project nor the compensation process that follows.

Led by Lamu Human Rights Activist Is’Haq Khatib, the locals accused the NLC of frustrating them in past similar processes in the pretext of acquiring lands for national projects in Lamu.

Khatib said the commission had, in fact, failed to resolve land conflicts in Lamu and had instead caused even more damage.

He said there was the need for the government to ensure that all residents of Lamu are accorded title deeds for their lands before encouraging investors to come so as to avert conflict.

The commission has been on the spot for acquiring more land than agreed upon for the establishment of the Lapsset.

“We have no faith in the NLC, absolutely none. As we start talks of land acquisition for the crude oil pipeline, we want to make it know that we shall not work with the NLC. We are done with been conned and duped by a commission that should, in fact, be defending us. The government must find someone else who will work with us on this just not the NLC. Plus they must provide all landowners here with title deeds,”said Khatib.

Locals said they were concerned with the rate at which lands in the county continue to be grabbed and many of them rendered homeless squatters on their own lands as the NLC stands to watch.

Mohamed Mbwana, a landowner cited the acquisition of 70,000 acres of land for the Lapsset project and termed it a scam on the Lamu people since they were not consulted when the additional acreage was made.

The residents asked the government to resolve land issues in Lamu before proceeding with any further land acquisition processes.

“Under the NLC’s watch, we have witnessed our lands being grabbed. We have so many unresolved land issues hers and it would only be wise if the government tries to resolve them before we continue acquiring more land for whatever purpose,” said Mbwana.

When reached for comment on the matter, the NLC acting chair Abigael Mbagaya said she wouldn’t comment later.

“I am driving. Will call later and comment,” she said.

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).

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 pipeline will terminate as a marine export terminal at the port of Lamu along the Kenyan Coast.

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.