The government has lifted the ban on importation of second-hand (mitumba) clothes and shoes and introduced new guidelines to mitigate Covid-19 risk of infection.
However, the move is likely to see prices of mitumba clothes shoot up since importers will have to spend more to meet the strict health requirements.
The protocols announced yesterday by Ministry of Trade and Enterprise Development will require Kenya Bureau of Standard (Kebs) to inspect consignments to ensure they meet set certification. Kebs requires that the clothes and shoes are cleaned and fumigated before baling. Each consignment has to be packed in clear and transparent and waterproof material.
Moreover, all mitumba importers and dealers have to be registered with the agency and adhere to Covid-19 prevention protocols issued by the Health ministry.
KEBS further says all used textiles and shoes intended for importation will be subjected to physical examination and certification under the Standards (PVoC) requirements.
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Sorting and bailing
“Examination and certification shall entail inspection of supplier’s sorting and baling premises, verification of fumigation and inspection of packaged shipments by the PVoC service provider,” the statement by Kebs Managing Director Bernard Njiraini read.
The shipment will also have to be accompanied by a fumigation or treatment certificate issued by a competent authority in the country of supply. “Each shipment shall be accompanied by a Certificate of Conformity (COC) issued by the Pre–export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) service provider responsible for inspecting the shipment,” Njiraini said.
The resumption of the importation of mitumba is a welcome reprieve for importers and traders, many of who were in dire economic straits after they run out of supplies.
In early April, Kebs imposed an indefinite ban on the importation of the second hand clothes as a way of curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Now, the importation resumes but clearance will only be undertaken through designated ports of entry.
“Clearance of used textiles and shoes shall be undertaken through Kilindini port and Inland Container Deport, Nairobi (ICDN),” Kebs said.
However, Ephantus Thuku, an importer based in Nairobi, cried foul saying the new guidelines will take time to be implemented and will force importers to dig deeper into their pockets to secure the goods.
“I do not understand why we need all this certification. I have to travel to meet my suppliers and explain why I need certificates from their end,” said Thuku.
It is feared the requirements may expose industry players to graft and teething irregularities.
“This is an avenue for corruption because sometimes even if you have the right papers, you are told your goods are not of a good standard and you are asked to bribe officials before your consignment is cleared,” he said.