Traders flout ban on used undergarments

Despite a ban on second-hand undergarments in the country, traders are still making brisk business with the clothing, a mini-survey by The New Times has shown.

Despite a ban on second-hand undergarments in the country, traders are still making brisk business with the clothing, a mini-survey by The New Times has shown.

The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS), in 2011, imposed a ban on the importation and selling of second-hand undergarments for health reasons. RBS also cited importation of substandard products and using the country as dumping ground to justify the ban.

Apart from health concerns, government believes the ban will as well encourage local textiles to begin producing the products.

However, a visit to some of the Kigali markets known for selling used clothes shows that undergarments are still on the market.

“I prefer used vests and underwears because they last longer and are cheap, the new ones wear out so easily. The moment you wash them, that is the end,” said Innocent Guruna, a taxi-moto cyclist in Remera.

Most traders in markets such as Kimironko and Nyabugogo are, however, ignorant of the ban

“I have spent six years now selling knickers, night dresses and brassieres. I have not heard about banning these products,” said Annette Ndahiro.

However, RBS said the ban still stands, adding that those who flout it will be dealt with accordingly.

“We’re planning another campaign against the sale of used undergarments. We shall intensify market surveillance with market leaders and security organs, and carryout border monitoring,” said Philip Nzaire, the director of Quality Assurance Unit at RBS.

Medical experts say second-hand underwear put users at risk of infections.

“If one contracted a disease from using second-hand underwear, the cost of treatment would be higher than purchasing a safe new garment,” said  Dr David Masembe, a skin expert.

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