Chaos erupted on Wednesday, August 12 as police lobbed teargas to disperse mitumba traders protesting in Gikomba market, Nairobi.
The traders were protesting the Government dragging its feet on coming up with protocols to allow importation of second-hand clothes popularly know as mitumba.
The importation of mitumba was banned as a way to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country after it had vastly affected countries where the goods are sourced from.Buyers and sellers pictured at Gikomba second-hand clothes market in Nairobi County on January 20, 2019.Daily Nation
The move is now set to push traders out of business as they claim that they are now left with no stock to sell.
A trader pleaded with Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Main to lift the ban on the importation of mitumba as they are suffering the effects of the move.
"We ask Betty to tell us when the ban will be lifted, we have a number of people depending on us and we also have loans and stalls to pay for.
"After all the fires in the market, our capital was depleted, we are just asking Betty to lift the ban because we also have children to feed," lamented one of the traders.
The traders claim that the shipments are fumigated and provided with a health certificate before being sent abroad with the virus not being able to survive for months in case it passes through undetected on the shipments.
They also claim that the ban on mitumba will not revive the local textiles industry which according to them collapsed as a result of removal of state subsidies back in the 1990s.
The mitumba traders are puzzled as new clothes are being allowed into the country from China yet used clothes are banned.
CS Betty on Monday, August 10, clarified that she imposed temporary restrictions as the Covid-19 crisis called for the prohibition of the importation of goods from countries facing the pandemic.
"There is no ban on mitumba and I think we have made that clear. We are considering lifting the restrictions and we met with Mitumba Association of Kenya and discussed on a few proposals relating to the safety measures required for imports," she noted.
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