Importers of second-hand clothes popularly known as mitumba from across the region have written a letter to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to protest what they term unjust holding of more than 50 containers of their cargo (clothes and shoes) at the port of Mombasa.
The shipments, certified and issued with a Valid Certificate of Conformity on basis PVOC programme by Kebs appointed agents from the respective countries of origin, arrived on different dates after the standards regulator had published a notice to ban the importation of second hand clothes and shoes.
According to correspondence between traders and Kebs, the consignments were detained on March 12 when the World Health Organisation declared scrutiny of such products, as opposed to March 30, the date Kenya announced the ban.
But Kebs Managing Director Bernard Njiraini said the directive will apply retrospectively commencing on the WHO date.
Mr Njiraini’s letter, dated April 2, to KRA commissioner General , Kenya Ports Authority and Port Health, states in part, "Following a public notice that prohibited importation of used garment and shoes, as precautionary measure, all consignments shipped from the port of loading after March 12, when World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a global pandemic will not be allowed into Kenya."
Kenya joined other countries in temporarily suspending such imports after a study by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the coronavirus can stay longer on different surfaces, including clothes.