Textile manufacturers want the government to buy locally manufactured protective gear instead of importing, to support local industries that have since switched to the production of the medical kits.
In Thika town, several garment manufacturers have turned to producing facemasks and other protective gears to survive the economic slump and also help in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
Among them is the Thika Cloths Mills that manufactures police uniform fabrics and other industries that produce school uniform including the Weaverbird Garment Manufacturers.
They said they were capable of meeting the demand of the protective equipment within Kiambu County and other neighbouring counties given the necessary support.
Thika Cloths Mills CEO Tejal Dothia said they were forced to enter into the facemasks market by the surging demand for the products after the government directive that made the wearing of the protective gear compulsory.
She said their production is demand-driven and added that their products are sometimes donated to the needy or sold to corporate companies.
She was speaking in Thika town over the weekend when she donated over 23,000 facemasks which included 10,000 for Nairobi’s Kibra slum dwellers, another 10,000 to the Interior Ministry and 3,000 to Witeithie market traders in Juja Sub County.
Thika Cloths Mills is one of the major textile industries in the country and supports over 700 workers and cotton farmers.
Anthony Kirori, a prominent Juja businessman who also owns a garment manufacturing company said many companies were suffering during this period and called for government support through incentives.
He called on the government to buy locally manufactured protective gear, to boost the local garment industries.
“The government should stop importing facemasks and other protective equipment from China and other western countries and instead promote the local textile industries and garment manufacturers who are in this business,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Hellen Kanyari, the CEO of Weaverbird Garment Manufacturers based in Thika town who said they have the capacity to produce enough masks for the town dwellers.
She also called on leaders not to shy away from helping the poor get access to these protective gears.
“Why is it that during electioneering period, campaign materials such as T-shirts, reflector jackets and campaign posters flood the streets but when serious pandemics hit the citizenry leaders run away?” she posed.
By Muoki Charles