Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has told leaders of Turkana County to ensure the local community gets part of the ownership of an upcoming petroleum pipeline.
The President said the locals can do this by converting their interest in the land to be used for the infrastructure (LAPSSET pipeline) into an investment that would earn dividends for them each year.
"Invest in the pipeline so that you have revenue that will help the community for a long time instead of asking for an upfront payment. You can do this by contributing land as shares instead of selling it," he told the leaders whom he met at State House, Nairobi.
The delegation was led by Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro, Turkana County Governor Josphat Nanok and Senator John Munyes.
The leaders said they appreciated the President's suggestion and promised to ensure they take advantage of the opportunity.
The meeting, also attended by Ministry of Energy Cabinet Secretary (CS) Davis Chirchir and his Principal Secretary (PS) Joseph Njoroge and LAPSSET chairman Francis Muthaura, was called to engage the leaders and update them on progress in the process to exploit oil resources in the region.
President Kenyatta reiterated the call he made last week when he met Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries that local communities and lower levels of government should be brought on board when making major decisions.
"Don't make announcements concerning development without bringing local communities on board because that is where suspicion starts," he said.
The Energy CS informed the leaders that the Government will soon advertise for a lead consultant for feasibility studies for the oil pipeline from Lokichar to Lamu.
The Government plans to have the pipeline ready in less than five years in readiness to transport petroleum products from oil wells in Turkana County.
The President said he wants to see production of petroleum within five years and instructed the Ministry of Energy to ensure no deadlines are missed in the various stages of preparations.
He told the Turkana leaders that politics and development are two different issues and mixing them will hurt Kenyans.
"Politicians have made this country to suffer for long. Politics and development are two different for me and we must deliver to our people," he said.
The pipeline will not be a single project but will come with other services such as electricity, fiber optic cable and water supplies to help local communities, he said.
Chirchir said the Government will continue engaging with Turkana County government on the projects. "The County government has the capacity to work with us," he said.
The leaders gave their assurance that they were satisfied with the plans to exploit the resources in the area and added that they will also need to go and inform the public of the progress being made.
Nanok said the National Government and his administration were now on the same page.
"We appreciate your suggestion that we contribute land as shares and we will take up that opportunity," he said.
Disputes over compensation for land have been a stumbling block for mega infrastructure projects.
The leaders are scheduled to meet the President again in the coming weeks for a consultative meeting.