11 April 2014

Kenya: Kajiado Leaders Ask NOCK to Stop Oil Search

OIL exploration at Magadi in Kajiado county has been temporarily stopped until fresh negotiations are agreed upon by all stakeholders.

The multibillion exploration exercise that was started two months ago by the National Oil Corporation of Kenya hangs in the balance after the county government distanced itself from the alleged deal entered between the explorers and the Maasai community.

Elected leaders have now given Nock and the Ministry of Energy 14 days to engage the community in a "dignified manner".

Kajiado Deputy Governor Paul Ntiati on Wednesday evening called off the exploration and demanded that top Nock officials engage residents and elected leaders on how best the exercise should be conducted.

Ntiati, who was accompanied by Kajiado West MP Moses Sakuda and Magadi MCA Peter Pariken, met with members of four group ranches at the Flamingo Conference Hall in Magadi town.

The deputy governor said no further exploration will be conducted. Ntiati said that under the devolved system of governance, public participation in any government engagement.

He said the right of the local communities had been trampled upon.

"How can Nock come here with all that machinery, dig up grazing fields as they use heavy vibrators in total disregard of the effects they inflict on livestock?" Ntiati said.

He said the Sh4.2 million set aside by Nock as part of its corporate social responsibility token to residents is "peanuts" compared to the more than Sh9 billion the government is using for the exploration.

During the meeting, members of the several group ranches affected by the exploration said Nock promised them Sh4.2 million compensation.

Sakuda said the leaders reached the decision after it emerged that Nock did not follow the right procedure in negotiating for oil exploration.

"This is total disgrace on the side of Nock. They have no courtesy. We will say no to them until the CEO of Nock and the minister concerned come to talk to us about what is going on here," he said.

Senator Peter Mositet did not attend the high-powered meeting but sent his apologies as he was "engaged in other national duties in Nairobi".

Mositet was the first to raise the issue that Nock did not consult the leadership before carrying out the exploration in Magadi.

A Nock researcher, Ambrose Ofafa, who had been sent to represent the company at the meeting was shouted down by leaders when he attempted to say that the government was not "after anything but oil".

Nominated MCA Charles Lekanet told Ofafa he is "not qualified" to address them.

"You are just a junior officer who should not be here in the first place. We want the MD and those others above. Keep quiet!" Lekanet said.

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