The Government of Kenya has banned the importation of second-hand clothes commonly known as a ‘mitumba’ as it seeks to avert the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Government said the move to ban Mitumba importation is aimed at protecting the health of Kenyan citizens while at the same time support the growth of local industries.
“The government has suspended importation of second-hand clothes with immediate effect to safeguard the health of Kenyans and promote local textiles in the wake of coronavirus,” said the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Cooperatives.
Kenya has been importing the mitumba clothes from Asia, Europe and the US which are among the regions hit hard by the covid-19 and thus importing clothes from the regions could risk the health of Kenyans.
Most Kenyans have been buying the mitumba clothes in bulk and selling them in open-air markets like Gikomba, Nairobi. The Mitumba clothes are way cheaper and affordable as compared to the brand new clothes thus preferred by the “common Mwananchi”.
Data from KNBS revealed that in 2018 alone, Kenya imported 177,160 tons of mitumba valued at 17 billion which was an increase as compared to 2017 where the country imported 135,868 tons.
Kenyans spent over 11 billion shillings on Mitumba in the first six months of 2019 but the imports faced a steep drop as the world started to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, importation of the mitumba clothes presented a real competition to the Local textile industries which had been left hanging on thin strings thus the ban will be a relief to them.
Some of the textile industries that are likely to get relief from the ban of Mitumba clothes are Rivatex in Eldoret, Kicomi in Kisumu and the Mount Kenya Textiles (Mountex) based in Nanyuki.
The government says the revival of the textile industries would create at least 7000 jobs to Kenyans and over 1 million will be engaged in Cotton cultivation countrywide.