The biting shortage of tampons could last for another one month as suppliers of the female hygiene products grapple with import hitches.
Kim Fay East Africa, the local suppliers of Kotex tampons, have attributed the shortage to hitches in supply of raw materials used to produce the tampons.
On the other hand Radbone Clark Kenya, who import, market and sell OB tampons, have attributed shortage of their brand to the slow movement of cargo at the Mombasa Port following enforcement of more stringent inspection procedures by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and other State agencies.
Radbone Clark Kenya said the new port clearance procedures introduced late last year by KRA were an impediment to many businesses.
“Our products need no assembly since they come as finished products. However, the delay in clearing cargo lasts six to eight weeks and this is something we have been experiencing since September last year,” said a Radbone Clark official who requested anonymity to enable her speak candidly.
The new procedures, aimed at checking the inflow of fake products into the country, requires all consolidated cargo to be inspected by Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) appointed agents and issued with a Certificate of Inspection (COI) in the country of origin before importation.
A Kim Fay spokesperson cited “logistic issues” as the reason behind the over three-month shortage of Kotex tampons in local supermarkets.
The shortage has caused widespread outcry on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
“We assemble our products locally and getting the raw materials has been a challenge, but we are working on getting them by end of the month,” said the Kim Fay official also on condition of anonymity.
Kim Fay, however, said the shortage has no relation with the recall of some Kotex tampons in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after consumers reported that some of the products unravelled or came apart when they were being removed.
“We are a different market and this does not affect the quality of the products we distribute in the country,” she said.
Kebs and the KRA issued a notice in May to all importers of consolidated air and sea cargo to register with the standards agency to have their goods inspected under a new procedure introduced in 2005.
The procedure, which saw 20 firms approved to import as consolidators, has been targeting cargo containing a wide range of products.
It also targets merchandise in small quantities or parcels belonging to several consignees who have assembled their parcels to form one consignment and which may be declared as belonging to one importer at the port of destination.
Feminine hygiene products such as tampons are not the only goods affected at the port due to the ongoing government crackdown of illicit goods.
In November, soft drinks processor Coca-Cola was locked in a bitter dispute with the taxman and Kebs over goods worth Sh500 million detained at Mombasa port.
The lack of access to the feminine hygiene products has been a problem to a large percentage of women who use it in lieu of ordinary sanitary towels.
Tampons are designed to absorb menstrual flow and are usually made from rayon or a blend of cotton and rayon materials.
Just like the ordinary sanitary towels they all come in different sizes corresponding to the amount of liquid they can absorb. They include mini, regular, super or even super plus.