Kenya has banned the importation of second-hand clothes, popularly known as “mitumba”, as a way of limiting the spread of coronarivus.
“Importation of used clothes is suspended with immediate effect to safeguard the health of Kenyans and promote local textiles,” Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper quoted Trade Minister Betty Maina as saying.
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.
A significant number of Kenyans with low-incomes depend on the mitumba business for their livelihoods.
But the government has been keen to discourage these imports in support of local industries.
On Wednesday, Ms Maina met second-hand clothes dealers and encouraged them to source goods from local manufacturers.
But not everyone is happy with the suspension.
The MP for Kamukunji sub-county, where the bustling clothes market of Eastleigh is situated, tweeted his opposition, saying he was shocked by the move:
1/2 While I am cognizant of the hard decisions that the Govt 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. https://t.co/s4IioANTBF
— Yusuf Hassan (@MPyusufhassan) March 25, 2020