By Azania Post Reporter
TANZANIA, including East African region are expected to stop importing second-hand clothes by 2019, a move that has received support and criticism in equivalent measure.
A common observation across many East African nations is the massive second hand clothes markets which employ thousands of people and offer cheap clothes to customers.
According to the UN, up to 80% of Africans wear second-hand clothes also known as ‘hand-me-downs’.
These clothes are blamed for killing local textile industries in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Rwanda forcing the East African Community to call for a ban on their importation by 2019.
Market Place Africa, Mayambala Wafrika Chairperson Worldwide African Congress expressed his support for the ban saying: “after 50 years of independence our country Uganda and other African countries should have the ability to produce and manufacture certain things like clothes locally.”
UN estimates that South Korea and Canada combined have at one time exported $59m worth of used clothes to Tanzania while Kenya imported used clothes worth $42 from the UK alone.
Speaking a second hand clothes seller identified as Ringo Mwaitebele at Kariakoo Market in Dar es Salaam ,urged the government to stop from doing such things because it could kill many people.
“We have been in this business for more than twenty years , so banning us from this activity is a big blow to families and even government, “he said.
In its bid to ensure secondhand clothes are out of the market, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, (TBS) last year carried special operation seizing dozens s of secondhand underwear worth million of shillings.
Speaking to Azania Post the TBS Public Relations officer, Rhoida Andusamile said the secondhand underwear business was contrary to TZS 758:2003 requirements on compulsory standards for inspection and acceptance criteria for used textile products.
Andusamile said they carried out a fruitful operation in collaboration with police in various markets across the country..
“We would like to remind all people involved in the business of used garments that all used undergarments are not allowed to be imported and sold in the country due to health and safety reasons,” she noted.
The standard body issued one-month notice two years ago to all dealers, importers and sellers of second hand clothes dubbed ‘mitumba’ to remove all second-hand innerwear such as socks, brassieres, vests, night dresses, camisoles and briefs from the local market.
The TBS’s officer disclosed that most of the secondhand clothes are illegally imported in the country because the authority had for a long time now managed to control its importation through the ports, and airports.
“But we’re still seeing them in the markets! Who is importing them? We need these traders to disclose the agents, who import these clothes,” said. Andusamile, adding that it was not easy to estimate the cost of the destroyed clothes due to the fact that secondhand clothes vary in prices.
She said they were not targeting at small scale entrepreneurs, but the authority wants them to name the agents.
According to TBS, a person found selling secondhand underwear is subject to paying Tsh50 million ($30,979).