Mitumba traders in Nakuru County are now accusing Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary (CS) Betty Maina of deliberately delaying the issuance of guidelines that were to allow for the resumption of importation of Second hand clothes and shoes.
The traders, who held a peaceful protest on Wednesday morning lashed at the CS for being reluctant in implementing a directive issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta allowing the resumption in importation of second hand clothes and shoes. President Kenyatta had on 6th July directed concerned Ministries to work with stakeholders in coming up with guidelines that will reopen the importation window which had been temporarily closed in March to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Mitumba Association of Kenya, Nakuru Chapter Chairman Johnston Maina, said that majority of their members have run out of stock and are suffering. “Our members have been rendered jobless, we are suffering and we can no longer cater for our families, “said Maina. Maina narrated how auctioneers are on the necks of some of their members who have been unable to service their loans due to low business.
He wondered why the sector is the only one not being allowed to resume operations when other sectors have been allowed. “There are regulations which have been developed to guide operations for the matatu sector, churches and others, so why is the Ministry taking so much time to do the same for the mitumba sector?” he posed.
Peter Njoroge, one of the traders added that the ban on mitumba importation and low business has led to family breakups since parents who are traders are unable to settle bills and take care of their families. “If the situation is not addressed quickly we will not be able to find school fees for our children next year,” he equipped.
Another trader Jane Akinyi, appealed to CS Betty Maina to develop a motherly heart and listen to their cries. “We are pleading with her as mothers, that she should be in a better position to know how it feels as a mother to walk back home from work with nothing to put on the table for your children,” said Akinyi.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry formed a technical committee comprising of representatives from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) to determine whether or not the corona virus can last the duration it takes to ship in second hand clothes into the country. Statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), show that Kenya recorded a total of Ksh 17.77 billion in mitumba clothes orders in 2019, Ksh16.93 billion in 2018 while 2017 saw a total of Ksh 13.06 billion in orders of second hand clothes.