Lifting Mitumba ban a welcome boost

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Mitumba clothes. Photo/Courtesy

Resumption of trade in used clothes popularly known as Mitumba which is set to resume under strict protocols after the re-opening of hotels, lodges and parks is the latest indicator that Kenya is getting back to business.

The two sectors are strategic for not only employing millions of Kenyans but also giving the economy a sigh of relief by re-awakening other sectors.

Such is the required impetus to the economy, which nearly came to a stop in March 2020 after the country recorded the first case of Covid-19.

Already, Mombasa is getting back to life with resorts receiving guests after the government eased travel restrictions imposed in March to contain the pandemic.

Hotel bookings are also showing steady progress amid some protocols, having recorded more than 50 per cent bookings on the back of a Sh3 billion stimulus package set to be released next week.

These resources are expected to further cushion the fragile multi-billion-shilling sector.

With the forward and backward linkages of the tourism sector, other businesses are going to get a boost starting with tour operators and the agricultural sector is also set to harvest a bounty from the reopened hotels.

On the other hand, resumption of importation of used textiles and shoes under stringent measures and protocols is a blessing in disguise to the economy and the value chain it supports.

Granted, the sector competes with the local textile industry, but the value chain it has created since the early 1990s can not be gainsaid.

Indeed Mitumba trade is going to keep the jobs of close to 10 per cent of the country’s 21 million labour force which were at risk.

This after developing of protocols by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and Ministry of Trade to ensure consignments are subjected to physical examination and certification to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

However, as the traders await importations to start rolling in they must ensure that precautionary measures are followed to the letter to safeguard handlers and users of used textiles and shoes from any risk of exposure to the virus as the world grapples with the fast spreading pandemic.

This is important because the success of the used clothes business is likely to give other sectors the impetus and confidence to reopen and give the struggling economy a well deserved boost.

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