Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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Just a few weeks after oil was discovered in two points in Turkana County, residents of those areas have urged the government to show its full commitment in improving the dilapidated systems of infrastructure to meet the new diverse demands and influx of people entering the area.
The chairman of Tullow Oil Advisory Committee for the recently discovered Twiga 1 Oil John Aule told journalists in Kitale that the government has never done any meaningful improvement in all aspects of the county since it started the exploration process of oil in the area.
"They used to say that the oil was in exploration stage and now we are in the discovery stage which will follow the drilling process yet we have never had any meaningful arrangements as the Turkana community and the government together with the drilling institutions hence we are getting worried at the sluggishness shown by the government," said the chairman.
He said that the government has never shown the expected commitment of setting up diverse infrastructural facilities in the area despite knowing the impact that the oil could have on the region.
The area is said to be lacking health facilities, security, educational institutions among many others that should cater for the residents and the new comers who are entering the area in large numbers.
He noted that since the discovery, the two areas of Ngamia 1 in Turkana East and Twiga 1 in Turkana South have experienced an influx of people from all corners of the country leading to a drastic upsurge of the population from 21,000 people as recorded in the 2009 national population census to over 100,000 people who have surpassed the carrying capacity of the facilities available.
Above, The chairman of Tullow Oil Advisory Committee for the recently discovered Twiga 1 Oil John Aule
There is fear of disease outbreaks in the area because there is a dire shortage of basic facilities and needs especially water.
He called for the building of well facilitated hospitals in the area among which there should be a district hospital at Lokichar to serve the wide community around the area.
At the same time the residents have developed a fear that their various cultural and other traditional aspects may be eroded by the newcomers who might dilute them and eventually be wiped out based on the illiteracy levels.
Insecurity in the area is also a challenge in the conflict prone area whereby the Turkana community and their neighboring Pokots are always clashing on various issues. The leader cited laxity in the government's move to beef up security in the area citing Turkana South police division which he said has only 20 police officers.
"The OCPD for Turkana South commands only 20 police officers and that is a clear indication that the government is not serious with improving the security of that area even after knowing that it is a conflict area. Surely where on earth did you witness an OCPD being in charge of twenty police officers," the chairman said.
He pointed out that the government through the ministry of internal security and the commissioner of police to put in place enough security units now that the oil projects are government projects hence the state should not take the whereabouts of the area lightly.
However, people from the Turkana community are highly expectant of having a total facelift of their livelihood in various aspects after the oil discovery.
They expect a share from the oil as a community and also as individuals with hopes that their children will now access full education and supply of electricity and good roads among other facilities that had lagged behind for decades.
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