Inside Politics

Importation protocols on used wears under review

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 00:00 |
Second hand clothing (Mitumba) business in Nairobi. Photo/ PD/File

Lewis Njoka @LewisNjoka

The government has not finalised reviewing mitumba industry stakeholders inputs for possible development of protocols that will inform resumption of second-hand clothes importation.

Speaking to BusinessHub on phone however, Trade Cabinet Secretary, Betty Maina, said the protocols will be published as soon as they are ready saying her ministry was being diligent with the matter as it touched on millions of lives and livelihoods.

The government’s progress report comes amid protests from the traders that delays in publishing the protocols are costing the sector about 35,000 jobs a week as stocks are depleted despite increased demand for the affordable clothes.

“We are working on the protocols. We have received the input from all the stakeholders and are reviewing it,” said Maina.

Maina’s statement raises hopes that traders in the country could soon resume importing used clothes after the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned the activity in March as a precautionary measure against the Covid-19 pandemic.

She asked buyers and sellers of mitumba to exercise caution and demand proof of adherence to set protocols to ensure the products are virus-free.

“If people are buying clothes, they need to be certain that they are safe and one of the things they can do, if they have chosen to go and buy, is ensure that the sellers can produce certificates to confirm that the clothes are free from any ailments.

They must also wash and sanitise the clothes themselves,” she said.

In a statement sent to newsrooms on Sunday, the Mitumba Association of Kenya Chairperson, Teresia Njenga,said the delay was impacting negatively the livelihood of Kenyans especially the approximately two million people who work in the second-hand clothes industry.

Hard choices

“When the President issued the directive during his 9th State address on Covid-19 pandemic on July 6, we extended our appreciation to the Head of State and hoped that the ministry would move expeditiously.

Weeks on, more traders have lost their livelihoods as others are faced with hard choices,” said Njenga.

“We estimate that for every week of delay, approximately 35,000 traders, players and linked sectors are deprived of their livelihoods as stocks get depleted,” she added.

The association said it developed own importation guidelines and submitted to the ministry early June which proposed to enhance the health protocols effected at the countries of origin, and introduce additional health clearance measures.

The development of the protocols follows a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta three weeks ago where he ordered Ministry of Trade and Health to under take the task.

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