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Mitumba traders seek import approval

By Anyango Otieno | July 14th 2020

A mitumba trader sorts his clothes on Ang'awa Avenue in Kisumu. [File, Standard]

Second-hand clothes traders fear they may be pushed out of business in the next one month if the resumption of importation of the commodity is not fast-tracked.

The Mitumba Association of Kenya says they are waiting for the protocols to be put in place by the ministries of Trade and Health, as was directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta during his last address, that would lead to the resumption of the business.

“As stakeholders in this sector, we laud the president’s timely move that will go a long way in salvaging thousands of jobs and livelihoods that depend on this trade directly or otherwise,” said the association's chairperson, Teresia Njenga.

There were no timelines provided to assure the traders of when their businesses would resume, which they now say worries them.

“We are out of stock and we are afraid we may not be able to continue with our businesses in the next one month. We ask the president to help us in ensuring the process is concluded as soon as possible,” said Peter Ngethe, a trader.

The association said traders were ready to comply with the guidelines and asked for the process to be fast-tracked so that their businesses could stay afloat.

Njenga noted that they had already opened talks with the relevant ministries in developing protocols that would help stop the spread of Covid-19 while ensuring continuity in business.

“We are willing to re-fumigate the clothes when they get here and follow all other containment measures put in place to ensure traders and buyers are safe,” said Njenga.

The ban on importation of second-hand clothes was imposed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards in March as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, a contentious matter that experts dispelled, saying shipments are cleaned and fumigated at source.

“We are confident that the new protocols will help in safeguarding the health of traders,” said Njenga.

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