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EPZA urges Government to allow garment processing factories to venture into mass PPEs production

By James Wanzala | May 10th 2020

The Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) has asked the State to engage local manufacturers in the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).

According to the EPZA board chairman Paul Gicheru, local garment manufacturers have been producing such gear even before the Covid-19 pandemic and should be given priority when the State floats tenders for the manufacture of PPEs.

"The board has also requested local investors to venture into making PPEs to help local firms stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic," said Mr Gicheru.

The National Treasury has temporally lifted the rules that compelled EPZs companies to sell 20 per cent of their annual production in the local market. They are now required to sell all their products locally.

Gicheru said the board has also appealed to employers to retain workers even as they scale down operations.

"Most workers live on a hand-to-mouth basis and it would be bad to terminate their jobs. They have families who depend on them," said Gicheru.

"We have also appealed to the Government to create more job opportunities for our youth during these tough economic times."

Gicheru also noted that the EPZA board has given clear guidelines that will ensure the safety of workers who are visiting their work stations.

The board has recommended that workers should report to work in phases. This, he said, means firms should only allow 30 per cent of their total workforce at the work place at one time in efforts to maintain social distancing.

EPZA has at the same time reached out to several companies asking them to set up booths where employees can wash their hands and access sanitisers.

Gicheru said that this is to ensure safety measures are adhered to as spelt by the Ministry of Health. He also asserted that companies are at liberty to review workers' wages downwards so that they can sustain themselves.

Two local companies - Shona Ltd and Royal clothing EPZ Athi River - are among four entities contracted by the Government to produce PPEs for health care workers.

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