Mitumba traders finally get green light as gov’t issues new importation protocols
The government has cleared the mitumba import blockade through the publishing of new protocols allowing traders to make new orders for the used textiles and shoes.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) alongside the Ministry of Trade has published new guidelines which are expected to end agony for thousands of mitumba traders around the country.
The government halted the importation of mitumba early this year as as part of measures to contain spread of COVID-19.
While the ban was later lifted, the importation of mitumba remained frozen there being no safety protocols developed by the Ministry of Trade to guide the resumption of imports.
Second hand traders across the country can now breathe a sigh of relief as new guiding principles come into play.
All used textiles and shoes intended for importation into the country shall be subjected to physical examination and certification under Pre-export Verification of Conformity to standards (PVoC) requirements.
Suppliers of mitumba shall be required to alert PVoC service providers contracted by KEBS on the intention to import and shall dispatch all orders through designated ports of entry including the Kilindini Port and the Inland Container Deport Nairobi (ICDN).
“The guidelines provide a framework for enforcing additional safety measures such as cleaning and fumigation of used textiles and shoes at the country of origin before baling, and at the wholesale or retail stores including surrounding areas every day at closure of business,” said KEBS Managing Director Bernard Njiraini.
Each bale of textiles is expected to contain a single category of garments and shall be labelled by mass, category, name of supplier, country of origin and the address of the importer.
The consignment of supply shall be limited in line with existing standards which bar the importation of second hand night ware, hospital wear, undergarments and bath towels.
A bale of shoes shall likewise carry one single type and shall have labels of mass, category and addresses of the supplier and importer.
Mitumba wholesalers are expected to adhere to COVID-19 protocols by the Ministry of Health including the fumigation of stores, the maintenance of inventory, provision of hand-washing stations and the wearing of masks.
Retailers of mitumba are meanwhile expected to obtain business licenses specific to their area of operations and observe general measures including hand washing and the wearing of masks.
Further, buyers are required to purchase mitumba from licensed business premises alone and obtain physical and mobile phone details of the seller along with the adherence of general guidelines by the Ministry of Health.
KEBS says non-compliance shall result in the rejection of products and may warrant additional legal measures against parties.
The new guidelines come on the backdrop of widespread protests by mitumba dealers who lamented the continued loss of jobs for the key sector employing more than 200,000 Kenyans.
The majority of mitumba traders had been forced to close shop as they ran out of supplies rendering many jobless and shifting thousands to other lines of income.
According to the Mitumba Association of Kenya, over 5000 jobs have already been wiped out from the sector.