The govt should safeguard interests of Turkana people
28 October 2013, 15:42
Turkana has emerged as the new wealthy lands of Africa. With oil having been the landmark discovery some years back, water tables below the earth surface have catapulted Turkana to unprecedented heights. The land that was formerly dry and unproductive is now set to become among the most developed and highly productive areas.
Discovery of wealth in a region attracts investors from far and wide. That has been the norm ever since the beginning of trade among communities. Top it off with the fact that the world has now become a global village and transfers as well as transportation can be done in a matter of seconds, the manner in which investors will descend on Turkana cannot be described.
Investors come looking to benefit the most from the new resources discovered. They will focus on maximizing profits and utilizing as much as they can before they deplete the stock and vacate in haste. What is happening presently in Turkana is exactly heading in this direction. Numerous investors are already showing interest and if policies are not framed properly, the investors will rob us in broad daylight.
The fact that Turkana people are considered a marginalized community and have out rightly been ignored by successive governments, development in the area is below par. Schools are dispatched in remote areas of the region making education inaccessible and the fact that they are largely a pastoralist community, schooling is not heavily considered a priority. With very low levels of education, the people of the region are at a high risk of being swindled off their wealth especially when it comes to selling of lands. The investors who are ready and willing to purchase potions for development will obviously use the advantage of being informed and knowledgeable to hard press the natives in a land purchase deal.
On another scale, the Turkana people ought to be benefiting the first when it comes to development prospects. Companies are setting shop in the vast County in the hope of finding more oil deposits, as well as other minerals. These companies should be structured in such a manner as to enable the absorption of area locals into the human resource of the various companies. This should not only happen at the low levels but across the divide; from top management up to first line employee posts. Recent reports indicate that the natives of Turkana feel shortchanged by the manner of selection of personnel, tendering processes and other activities carried out by the companies that should benefit the locals. Elders say that it is evident the activities are not benefiting the locals.
Looking at the two major angles, the government should ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to avert the possibility of them occurring. Turkana people own the land that is supposedly transforming into the new Dubai come a few years and that should be left that way, if it so happens that transfer of ownership is to happen then the foreigner who wants to purchase should come with clean and clear intentions. The transaction should be overseen by government if possible, based on the value of the deal of course, and all benefits accruing to the Turkana people be efficiently and effectively handed to them so as to enable them develop themselves.
Employment of the Turkana people in the various companies that have presence in the region is mandatory. The Turkana people own the resources found and they should be allowed to participate in the extraction process. It is not proper to have unemployment of youths in Turkana yet the oil drilling companies need youthful men and women to work in the wells and processing plants. Government should embark on a mission to ensure majority of the Turkana people are employed as well as other qualified Kenyans. Kenyans should also be facilitated by the government to study oil, energy and petroleum courses to strengthen their command in the top divisions of the petroleum, energy and oil markets in Kenya.
Failure to do so, the government will be jeopardizing the interests of the Turkana people and the Kenyan people as a whole. The foreign investors are slowly trickling in and they seem to be in possession of vast amounts of cash. Interests will be bought and crushed, not because Kenyans want, but because of marginalization which lead to lack of proper education and exposure.
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