Kenya has banned the importation of second-hand clothes popularly known as mitumba, as a way of limiting the spread of coronavirus.
“Importation of used clothes is suspended with immediate effect, to safeguard the health of Kenyans and promote local textiles,” Trade Secretary, Betty Maina said.
“Many people buy the second-hand clothes sent from Europe, North America and China – which they prefer because they are more affordable than new products,” report says.
It added that a significant number of Kenyans with low-incomes depend on the mitumba business for their livelihoods.
However, the government has been keen to discourage importation of second-hand clothes to boost local industries.
On Wednesday, Ms Maina met the dealers and encouraged them to source goods from local manufacturers.
The MP for Kamukunji sub-county, where the bustling clothes market of Eastleigh is situated, tweeted his opposition to the move:
“While I am cognizant of the hard decisions that the Government has to make to protect the public from the scourge of the coronavirus, I’m shocked by the Mitumba imports ban. Thousands of low-income Kenyans – many of them from Kamukunji – depend on mitumba for their livelihoods,” he said.