Kampala – The Uganda National Bureau of Standards has halted the suspension of importation and clearance of used garments and used footwear. The standards body had announced the suspension of the importation of used clothes and used footwear on Tuesday as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus
But the announcement stirred anger amongst importers of second-hand clothing commonly known as Mivumba in Uganda. Many of them stated that tones of second-hand clothing bales had been imported into the country and were awaiting clearance through customs and described the UNBS move as thoughtless.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) said that the feedback indicated that the action was likely to derail the focus on the other existing measures put in place by the government to contain the virus that causes COVID-19. As such, it rescinded the directive.
Research indicates that the COVID-19 virus mainly spreads from person to person especially when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes sending droplets containing the virus into the air. One can also catch the virus through touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on it.
However, there is no proof so far that the virus can be transmitted through second-hand clothing or footwear. Available data indicated that the virus can last up to five days on metallic surfaces like doorknobs, jewellery, silverware, up to four days on wooden furniture, up to nine days on plastics which include among others containers and bottles, bus seats, backpacks and elevator buttons and 2-3 days on stainless steel surfaces like. It lasts 24 hours on shipping boxes.
The biggest chunk of clothes and footwear used in Uganda is secondhand imported mainly from China, the United States and the United Kingdom. Uganda’s previous attempt to stop importation of used clothes and shoes attracted the ire of the United States with the country threatening to pull the plug on Uganda’s chance to export through African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), an arrangement where poor countries export the US tax-free to the country.