Editorials

EDITORIAL: Ease mitumba imports ban

betty

Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The ban had been imposed to stem the risk of importing the coronavirus as Kebs inspectors abroad could not ascertain conformity with sanitary and phytosanitary measures due to restrictions.
  • At the time of the prohibition, Kenya was just beginning to confirm Covid-19 cases.
  • Now the caseload stands at more than 22,000, primarily due to human-to-human transmission.

Just over a month ago, Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina gave a go-ahead to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to explore the possibility of lifting the March ban on second-hand clothes and shoes imports, popular as mitumba.

The ban had been imposed to stem the risk of importing the coronavirus as Kebs inspectors abroad could not ascertain conformity with sanitary and phytosanitary measures due to restrictions.

At the time of the prohibition, Kenya was just beginning to confirm Covid-19 cases. Now the caseload stands at more than 22,000, primarily due to human-to-human transmission.

Nonetheless, the country has eased movement restrictions it had imposed at the onset and allowed unrestricted access of foreigners even from countries hardest hit by the virus with the resumption of international flights.

The mitumba sector is a source of livelihood to thousands of traders and casual workers as well as a source of relatively cheap clothes and shoes for millions of Kenyans.

Traders say most of them have depleted their stock and fear closure of their enterprises.

Kebs has had time to develop guidelines to ensure all products in the market are safe. It is now time to ease restrictions for the importation of the merchandise.