24 May 2018

Kenya: Bridge Hitch in Plan to Truck Oil From Turkana

Photo: Jared Nyataya/Daily Nation
A police vehicle escorts trucks loaded with crude oil from Ngamia 8 oil fields in Turkana County on June 3, 2018.

The planned trucking of oil from Turkana to Mombasa at the beginning of next month could be in jeopardy as the road between Kitale and Lokichar has been cut off by floods.

This is despite President Uhuru Kenyatta's promise yesterday that trucking will begin on June 3.

The President announced the date after meeting representatives from the Kenya Joint Venture Partners comprising Tullow Oil, Africa Oil Corporation and Total, Turkana County leaders and Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes to discuss the modalities around the transportation of oil under the Early Oil Pilot Scheme at State House in Nairobi.

"We are ready to get started. This is important for our country as a whole, and for the community in the producing area," said President Kenyatta in a statement sent to newsrooms.

SHARING OIL REVENUE

The scheme targets transportation of at least 2,000 barrels of oil by road using trucks from the Turkana fields to Kenya Petroleum Refinery in Mombasa.

Speaking at the meeting on Wednesday, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok said the community has been informed of the agreement on the sharing of revenue from the oil proceeds.

However, heavy trucks are not able to use a temporary bridge constructed for them at Kainuk after it was overtopped by the flooded River Malmalite on the Turkana-West Pokot border.

Only light vehicles are allowed to use the make-shift bridge. Dozens of the trucks are parked on both sides of the river as drivers wait for the water volumes to reduce. But with the rains continuing, the water levels have gone up.

CONSTRUCTION OF BRIDGE

The government has been planning to take the oil stored in tanks in Lokichar to Mombasa, a plan recently boosted after Turkana leaders agreed to support it in a meeting with President Kenyatta at State House last weekend.

At that meeting, also attended by Deputy President William Ruto, the leaders, led by Mr Nanok and Mr Munyes, promised to oversee the smooth trucking of the resource in exchange for non-capping of oil proceeds allocated to the host community.

When he was in Turkana last month, Mr Ruto said Sh1.5 billion had been set aside for Kainuk bridge's construction, which is yet to start.

Recently, Tullow Oil, the mining company, said it was working with the national government to find a quick solution to the bridge obstacle.

The company's country manager Martin Mbogo said they had been told the Kenya Highways Authority (KeNHA) had already issued a contract for the building of a permanent bridge.

"The Kainuk bridge is a key part of the A1 highway and, therefore, important to our operations. Tullow, in partnership with KeNHA and other users of the road, continue to collaborate in putting together measures via a drift to support operations," said Mr Mbogo.

Mr Patrick Lokaapa, a resident of Kainuk, said more than 40 trucks loaded with food supplies and essential commodities heading from Kitale to Lodwar and major towns in Turkana have been forced to wait until the water volumes reduces.

Meanwhile, Turkana residents living in flood-prone areas have been urged to move to higher grounds as heavy rains continued to pound the county.

County Disaster Management Executive Charles Lokioto told pastoralists to stop grazing their livestock along river beds especially of seasonal rivers, saying they risked being swept away by flash floods.

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