Kenya banned the importation of secondhand clothes, also known as Mitumba into the country. The government took the step then to minimize the risk of “importing” the Covid-19 pandemic that is already sweeping across the world.
Mitumba in Kenya comes from the United States of America that has greatly been affected by Covid-19. But does Mitumba have the potential to carry the virus all the way from the United States of America to Kenya? Did Kenyan officials have scientific evidence before banning the importation of Mitumba?
The latest scientific advice indicates that the importation of second-hand garments and shoes into Kenya poses no credible public health risk.
The scientific research concludes that the Covid-19 virus cannot survive on any inanimate object for longer than 9 hours. Is this reason enough to continue having the ban in place?
On July 6th President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Cabinet Secretary in charge of trade to urgently approve guidelines and lift the ban on importation of clothes. As the Ministry dithers, an additional 5000 Kenyans are deprived of their livelihoods every day.
Mitumba supports millions of families in Kenya. The sector is part of the larger SME sector that employs at least 86 percent of the population and contributes at least 45.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
At a time when Covid-19 has forced thousands of businesses to shut down, and millions of Kenyans rendered jobless, the government of Kenya should be at the forefront of ensuring that any available opportunity to keep Kenyans working is sustained.
It is time we stop talking about “after Covid-19.” What if the pandemic does not go away? The World Health Organization has already told the world not to expect the pandemic to melt away soon. Are we going to leave the ban in place till then?
The Cabinet Secretary in charge should move with speed and save millions of Kenyans who have now been rendered jobless as a result of the Mitumba ban.