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Mitumba traders seek fast imports clearance to recoup losses

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The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) lifted the ban after development of guidelines to enhance protection and safety of traders and buyers. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Speaking Monday, the traders said lifting the import ban was a win-win for traders whose businesses will receive fresh supplies as well as the government at national and county levels where they pay levies.
  • The import ban was imposed on March 25 as Kenya moved to stem new coronavirus infections.
  • The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) lifted the ban after development of guidelines to enhance protection and safety of traders and buyers.

Traders want the clearance of imported second-hand clothes and shoes fast-tracked to enable them recoup losses made in the past five months, following the lifting of the import ban on the items.

Speaking Monday, the traders said lifting the import ban was a win-win for traders whose businesses will receive fresh supplies as well as the government at national and county levels where they pay levies.

“The entire value chain of second-hand clothes and shoes from retail traders, hawkers, landlords whose buildings are used to store the bales, wholesalers and transporters have a reason to smile,” said Nakuru- based trader John Githanga.

The import ban was imposed on March 25 as Kenya moved to stem new coronavirus infections.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) lifted the ban after development of guidelines to enhance protection and safety of traders and buyers.

Under the guidelines, the items will be fumigated at the country of origin before baling and upon arrival, as well as at the wholesale or retail stores daily at close of business.

Kebs managing director Bernard Njiraini said all importers of used textiles and shoes must register with Kebs, and clearly identify the source countries of their product to facilitate traceability.

“Clearance of used textiles and shoes shall only be undertaken through Kilindini Port and the Inland Container Depot Nairobi. We urge importers, dealers and buyers of used textiles to adhere to the guidelines,” said Mr Njiraini.

The import ban had seen traders cry foul as their businesses crumbled due to shortage of supplies while the few who were still in business decried costly supplies that forced them pass on the added cost to customers hampering sales.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data shows that in the first nine months of 2019, traders spent Sh17.8 billion to import second-hand clothes and footwear, a 6.9 percent growth compared to the corresponding period in 2018.

The sector remains a lucrative line of business for informal traders, and has in recent years also attracted traders from China, who have come in as the Asian economy grows its share as a source market for the clothes.