NAIROBI, KENYA: Traders can now resume importation and sale of used textiles and shoes (mitumba) effective immediately, says Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).
The reprieve comes following the development of protocols to enhance the protection and safety of traders and users while handling used textiles and shoes to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
“The guidelines provide a framework for enforcing additional safety measures such as cleaning and fumigation of used textiles and shoes at the country of origin before baling, and at the wholesale or retail stores including surrounding areas every day at the closure of business,” says Bernard Njiraini, Managing Director, KEBS.
The new protocols also require, among other factors, all importers of used textiles and shoes to register with KEBS and identify the country of origin of the bales to enable their traceability. Besides, clearance of used textiles and shoes shall only be undertaken through the Kilindini port and the Inland Container Depot Nairobi (ICDN).
“We urge importers, dealers, and buyers of used textiles to adhere to the guidelines provided in the protocols,” he adds.
Based on research and new knowledge corroborated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among other research organizations, the guidelines are a culmination of several weeks of research and consultations by KEBS with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Enterprise Development, and the Ministry of Health.
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KEBS suspended the importation of used garments and footwear, popularly known as “mitumba”, early this year following the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the WHO. This precautionary measure was taken with the main objective of safeguarding handlers and users of used textiles and shoes from any risk of exposure to the Corona Virus as the world grappled with the fast-spreading pandemic.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data shows that the mitumba sector contributes Sh17 billion to the country’s economy annually.
According to Charles Kabiru, the chairperson for Kamukunji market traders, out of the 530 people operating in the market, 130 closed shop after running out of stock due to the ban.