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Mitumba traders make urgent plea to State over their business

By Fredrick Obura | August 2nd 2020

The Mitumba Association of Kenya is making an urgent plea to the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development to publish the protocols for the resumption of the importation and sale of imported or second-hand clothes as directed by the President.

Three weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that the Cabinet Secretary, Betty Maina in consultation with the Ministry of Health and representatives of the Mitumba trade to establish acceptable protocols geared towards lifting the ban on the importation of second-hand clothes and footwear.

The association that represents nearly 2 million players in the Mitumba industry has stated the delay by the Ministry continues to negatively impact the livelihoods of Kenyans. According to the Association’s chairperson, Ms. Teresia Njenga, the industry players had submitted a proposal to the Ministry a month before the President’s directive as part of an agreement with the Ministry.

“When the President issued the directive during his 9th State address on the Covid-19 pandemic, on July 6th, 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,” she said.

“We estimate that for every week of delay, approximately 35,000 traders and players and linked sectors are deprived of their livelihoods as stocks get depleted. This is even though the World Health Organization (WHO) has not prohibited the movement of goods or commodities as a measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” she added.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of statistics Manpower survey, the popular mitumba traders fall under the Second-Hand clothes and footwear Industry which employs an estimated ten per cent (10 per cent) of the extended labour force. The total extended labour force based on Labour Force Survey Report in 2020 is 20,641,175. It is therefore estimated that the trade-in second-hand clothes and footwear employ 2,000,000 Kenyans.

In a letter addressed to the Minister, The association has pointed at the extremity of the situation and reiterated its previous commitment to collaborate with the Ministry as it plays its trade facilitation mandate.

The guidelines developed and submitted in early June by the association proposed to enhance the health protocols effected at countries of origin and introduce additional health clearance measures upon arrival. Equally, the guidelines provide detailed workplace protocols for traders, the majority of whom operate from open-air markets across the country.

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