High court Judge George Odunga who issued temporary orders restraining the government from evicting North eastern residents from oil exploration region and the commencement of oil and gas drilling.
BY SAM ALFAN.
High court Judge George Odunga has issued temporary orders restraining the government from evicting North eastern residents from oil exploration region and the commencement of oil and gas drilling.
Justice Odunga said that the case posed serious constitutional issues for determination and be taken to accounts the consequences of the challenged action.
Residents of Badada lagbogo division, wajir west constituency had moved to court claiming that should the oil drilling exercise start as planned they will be displaced with no specific place for relocation set for them.
The community blamed cabinet secretary for energy David chirchir for signing an agreement to commence the exercise with three oil exploration firms without public participation.
They also alleged that no substantive notice of eviction was given to them.
The court has ordered the case to be served to the respondents pending inter parties hearing on 25th November 2014, meanwhile the status quo be maintained.
Earlier residents of Garseqoftu location in North Eastern Kenya has asked a court to stop a Canadian firm, Taipan Resources, from prospecting for oil in Wajir, arguing that the process is interfering with its livelihood.
The Ajuran, a pastoralist community, told the court that Taipan’s oil exploration has limited its movement in the Badada area, where blocks 2B of the onshore oil reserves are located.
Taipan entered into a product sharing deal with the government in 2008 to explore oil in Badada. The deal was renewed in 2012 for Sh500 million.
Ahmed Hefow and Mumin Ahmed filed the suit on behalf of the Ajuran, and have alleged that the community has been denied a right to practise its pastoralist lifestyle.
The petitioners have said that failure to stop Taipan from exploring for oil may lead to violence as the community fights over the already scarce land to sustain its livelihood.
“Taipan is prospecting for oil in an area occupied by nomads without due regard to their unique way of life and ecosystem. The continued prospecting is a danger to the culture and livelihood of the Ajuran and is likely to result in clashes due to limited resources intended to be put to use by Taipan,” said Mr Hefow.
Taipan has denied the allegations, saying it has all the necessary permits for the exploration.
Maxwell Birely, the Canadian firm’s CEO, added that Taipan had sought permission from the Wajir county government and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) for the oil search.
“Taipan has taken out a single business permit from the County Government of Wajir authorising it to undertake oil exploration activities on the block,” he said.
The Ajuran have accused Taipan of destroying the area’s ecosystem through its activities, as they allege that oil spills have killed vegetation in the area.
Mr Hefow added that the current state of land is also a health risk to residents.
“The plants in the immediate vicinity of the sites were destroyed by site clearing and spilled oil. The smaller diameter holes that were left open or unfilled cause injuries to animals and man,” they said.
But Taipan said it has already carried out an environmental assessment, and that its activities would be limited to the 200 square metres over which it has struck oil.
“the 200 square metre areas where the exploration well will be drilled will also serve as the base where personnel will be housed and all drilling equipment will be stored,” added Mr Birely.
Mr Hefow and Mr Mumin claim that the Ajuran have occupied the Badada area for ages, and do not know any other land where they can graze their animals. They claim the community was not consulted before Taipan started exploring oil in the Badada area.
“In September, without prior notice or warning, they started transporting heavy machinery, clearing vegetation and prospecting for oil. The project venue is part of the preferred grazing fields held in high esteem by the Ajuran,” added Mr Hefow.
The court directed the respondents to be served and appear in court for inter parties hearing on 25th November 2014.