Good news as firms re-open to produce face and surgical masks

Wednesday April 29 2020

garment

Local garment manufacturers returning to work to produce of the much-needed protective clothing for Covid-9 to bridge the existing shortage. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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Local garment manufacturers have returned to work to produce the much-needed protective clothing in war against Covid-19.

This is expected to offer relief to buyers as locally produced protective gear will now be affordable.

Rwanda Today learnt that foreign nations’ ban on exports of materials had caused supply deficit in the country.

While the exact figures of imports were not readily available, obtained details indicate that over 20 firms licensed to make the protective gears were tasked to produce 300,000 facemasks daily starting April 19.

The move has also offered relief to the textile and fashion businesses in the country, which had closed shop due to ongoing lockdown.

Thierry Kayitare, manager at T-KAY Investment, a Kigali-based textile and printing company told Rwanda Today they were adjusting their production line to produce facemasks which had seen the company recall 40 of its 60 workers.

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“Hopefully we shall be able to reinstate everyone should the virus end soon so we can resume our usual garment-making business. We are responding to an emergency, so it’s not like we are going to get any substantial extra profit except meeting production costs,” he said.

DIKAM Ltd, another garment maker recalled its 60 workers from the lockdown as it embarked on mass production of masks on Monday.

Other firms licensed to start producing protective masks for sale to the public nationwide, Utexrwa, Gahaya links, New Kigali Designers and Outfitters Ltd and UZI Collections.

Diane Mukasahaha, DIKAM Ltd Director who is also chairperson of Rwanda Apparel Manufacturing Group says they were working towards a standard price of Rwf500 for all barrier masks.

Furthermore, the companies say they were working towards delivering more than 3 million combined facemasks supplies by the end of the week after the government made use of facemasks mandatory for all citizens.

“We expect that the demand will rise very fast to about 10 million per month, and local companies have work towards meeting that,” said Food and Drug Authority (FDA) director general Dr Patrick Karangwa.

According to the FDA, four companies will engage in production of equipment like surgical masks, face shields and coverall suits after they had their samples gauged against global standards.

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