Suswa residents ask House committee to increase royalty percentage

Residents around the Geothermal-rich Suswa area want the royalty available to locals, raised from the five percent, to at least 20 percent.

Speaking during a public participation forum attended by National Assembly Parliamentary Committee on Energy at Suswa Girls Secondary School on Wednesday, the locals from the pastoral Maasai community lamented that the five percent proposed for the community was too little, taking into consideration the impact on their lives through exploitation.

Solomon Muntet, a local said the exploration of the green energy at Olkaria by KenGen and Geothermal at Suswa/Magadi areas by Geothermal Development Company(GDC), will lead to displacement of the locals, as well as depletion of environment, thus, compensation was critical.

We want the community royalties be increased from five percent to at least 20 percent, and that of the county, be increased from the proposed 20 percent to at least 30 percent. This will ensure that the community around the resource have a sense of ownership of the projects, said Muntent.

The locals also demanded that the legislators include in their report the increment of the tenders to the locals, to at least 50 percent and 70 percent of skilled and unskilled manpower be allocated to the locals.

The Energy bill meeting, chaired by the Committee Chairperson, David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East) was told that the exploration will affect the community’s livelihoods a great deal.

The committee members present, included, Elsie Muhanda (Kakamega Woman Rep), Muturi Kigano (Kangema) and area MP, Lemanken Aramat (Narok East).

This is our sixth county on our public participation on the proposed Energy Regulation Bill 2017.We have gone around the country and surprisingly the locals seem more enlightened on their rights and have given us valuable input that had been left out, said Gikaria.

The legislator said overall, the bill will benefit the majority downtrodden Kenyans, citing the ‘Equalization kitty’ proposed by the government to cushion them against increase in the prices of electricity/fuel.

Should this bill go through, cases of Kenyans being forced to shoulder costs incurred by the sudden increase of fuel or electricity bills shall be a thing of the past, as the government will pay through the equalization fund, he said.

The area MP hailed the locals for being well-informed on the bill, and their benefits, promising them of his commitment in ensuring that their views were considered during the formation of the bill.

Source: Kenya News Agency