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Covid-19: Kebs bans importation of mitumba clothes

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has banned the importation of used garments otherwise known as mitumba effective immediately.

In a notice sent out to the importers and the public, Kebs said the move was precautionary in light of the new coronavirus pandemic and will be adhered to until further notice.

“As a precautionary measure, Kebs wish to notify the public and all Importers of used garments (mitumba) and used shoes that the importation of used garments and used footwear, is hereby prohibited with immediate effect, until further notice,” the notice read.

Further, Kebs explained that no consignment of used garments or footwear will be accepted from a country that is battling the pandemic.

The new directive comes just days after the Industrialisation CS Betty Maina denied claims that the government had suspended the importation of second-hand clothes.

Ms Maina said that the government had not suspended the importation of mitumba, but it will be much more difficult for businessmen to import second-hand clothes into the country.

Last week, through its official Twitter account, the ministry had said the ban was intended to cushion Kenyans from the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has sent shock waves around the world.

“Government has suspended importation of second hand clothes with immediate effect to safeguard the health of Kenyans and promote local textiles in the wake of corona virus,” read the tweet.

Kenyan traders import second-hand clothes and shoes from Europe, Asia and North America, which are then sold across the country in stalls and open-air markets.

Europe was recently declared as the new epicentre of the coronavirus whose first case was reported in China, a country with over one billion people, but which has now managed to suppress its spread.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market had seen Chinese traders open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba to cash in on the opportunities.