Thika Jua kali artisans have called for more government tenders to uplift their businesses that have been hit hard by effects of Covid-19.
They cited the school’s desk programme, saying they should be receiving more of those tenders in order to stay afloat this period.
Led by Macharia Irungu who has been training and linking them to markets, they said lack of market derailed their innovativeness and some were giving up.
They said this is the time they need more government support since during this coronavirus period, they have lost markets, sources of raw materials and government incentives.
During this coronavirus period they said other Jua kali sectors needed government support like the desk programme where some carpenters were contracted to make school desks and tables.
“We are impressed with the government support to the sector by giving carpenters tenders through the schools’ desk programme. However, it is not enough. More sectors like welding, tailoring and others need to be incorporated. Also, MPs and Governors have kitties and should take note,” said Irungu.
About 25 youth in Thika have benefitted from Sh 1 million tender to make 126 desks as part of the government’s Sh1.9 billion to provide furniture in schools.
Stanley Kariuki one of the artisans, said the sector is slowly becoming lucrative and luring many youth after completing their vocational training.
Speaking when Thika MP Patrick Wainaina visited their workshops to inspect their progress, Kariuki said the government should fast-track the passage of a bill that prohibits the importation of locally manufactured products into law in order to protect Jua kali artisans.
He said the country was capable of being self-reliant in the manufacturing sector if its innovative youth is protected from cheap imports as well as empowered through tenders.
“The sector is able to drive the government’s big four agenda on manufacturing if well supported. We are seeing some efforts from the government and we hope more could be done in safeguarding them from cheap imports,” he said.
Wainaina on his part challenged MPs and the county government to consider awarding tenders to Jua kali artifacts as a way of empowering them.
He told the youth to form registered groups so that they can benefit from the Uwezo fund to expand their establishments as well as make good income.
The MP who is the proponent of the safeguards bill in the national assembly said once passed, importation of goods that can and are produced locally will be banned.
By Rose Bela Kwamboka and Muoki Charles