Following the recent decision by Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) imposing a ban on the importation of used underwear for health reasons, traders dealing in second-hand attire have demanded a thorough explanation on what exactly was banned.
The ban came after the reports from the public that second-hand nightwear and undergarments caused health complications that included skin diseases and the importation of substandard products and using country as dumping ground as the reasons.
“We need more explanations on this ban, health problems which are sometime rashes, are in most cases caused by the quality of the cloth, because it also happens with some new clothes, so we need to also express our views on this,” said 38-year-old, Jack Tuyisenge, a second-hand dealer in Nyabugogo Market.
The garments that face the ban include; used night dresses, hospital gowns, ladies and gents’ underwear, brassieres, and vests.
The ban comes into effect on February 10
Tuyisenge said he has for the past five years, been investing over Rwf 170, 000 per week in secondhand wear from which he gained profit; dealing particularly in undergarments.
“So far I don’t have any other alternative; this business has been taking care of my two children.”
“We need to meet the officials in charge and extensively discuss this matter before action is taken, we don’t know what to do next,” said Consolee Mukagatare, a 40-year-old widow.
She has been investing Rwf70, 000 to purchase underwear every week.
Coletha Nyarunabaha, another affected dealer said: “we need more explanations because some of us have been in selling clothes (undergarments) for over ten years and there has been no problem, so we want the officials who imposed the ban to give us full information so that we exchange our views on this matter.”
According to John Habiyambere, the chairman of Twitezimbere Association, dealing in second-hand wear, his association has over 150 members and will lose close to Rwf10 million every month.
“This ban will mostly affect women, as most of them in our association have been selling ladies’ underwear and most them are widows,” said Habiyambere.
According to RBS, the second hand undergarments are imported from Europe, America, and a small number from some North African countries.
According to officials, the ban will lead to an increase of revenue collected from imported new products since they come in cartons, with their number clearly indicated unlike the used ones which come in bales and their number cannot be determined.