Warning: The rich European Union may end up bulldozing your nearest landa bazaar

Warning: The rich European Union may end up bulldozing your nearest landa bazaar


Low-income groups in countries like Pakistan rely on famous ‘landa bazaars’

  • Traders group in Kenya warns adverse effects on an industry that employs two million Kenyans
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LAHORE/LONDON (Web Desk/Reuters) – Have you ever visited the second-hand clothes market – locally known as landa bazaar – in your town? No. Why? You must be from the upper middle class or the elite. Otherwise, it is a preferred destination for the poor and an overwhelming majority of the middle class.

It is not just the imported used clothes but also shoes, bags, carpets and curtains which are available at these flea markets, thus attracting a variety of customers irrespective of their gender and age.

Once upon the time, the items at these landa bazaars were much cheaper. But then the imposition of taxes on imports meant that the prices of even used clothes soared. However, the rates still much lower than the ordinary market.

The winter season especially boost the trade with an increased demand for sweaters, jackets, gloves and mufflers. Obviously, the low-income groups can’t afford new items every year for their growing children.

Now just imagine if the Europe and North America stop sending used clothes to the countries like Pakistan. What would happen to the working class and lower middle class?

But it is impossible. Why would the rich in the developed countries avoid buying new clothes and throwing away the older ones? How can their governments deal with all this garbage? They surely can never ban the exports.

Well! You are wrong if you think it's impossible, as France, Denmark and Sweden have proposed restricting the used-clothing exports from the European Union, saying it can cause pollution in the developing and poor nations.

Certainly, they have no interest in the poor around the world and lack basic knowledge about the socioeconomic realities of these places.


Whether this proposal is accepted or not, there are people who fear the negative outcome, as Reuters says a representative of second-hand clothes sellers in Kenya said the move could hurt the industry in his country, which employs two million Kenyans.

The EU exported 1.4 million tonnes of used textiles in 2022, more than twice as much as in 2000 according to UN trade data. Exports to developing countries can lead to pollution when clothes that cannot be resold end up in dumps, the EU has said.

The three countries are proposing that the EU apply the Basel Convention to used clothes, banning exports of hazardous textile waste and requiring prior informed consent to be obtained before importing textile waste.

"The export of textile waste from the EU to developing countries causes significant environmental, social, and health problems. The EU has to put an end to this practice," Denmark's deputy permanent representative to the EU, Soren Jacobsen, told an Environment Council meeting in Brussels.

The aim of including used clothes in the Basel Convention would be to reduce or even end exports of used clothes from the EU, and instead to promote the development of textile recycling within the bloc, Cyril Piquemal, France's deputy permanent representative to the EU, said.

But Teresia Wairimu Njenga, chair of the Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya, which represents sellers of second-hand clothes, told Reuters that imports of used clothes supported livelihoods and generated tax revenues for the country.
Njenga denied that the imports contain large amounts of unusable items that end up in landfill.

"Nobody is giving us trash by force – what we are buying is good quality clothes, and if a supplier wants to sell us trash, we would be happy to refuse their consignment," she said.

Kenya imported 177,386 tonnes of used clothing in 2022, a 76 per cent increase on the amount imported in 2013, according to UN trade data. African countries including Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa are also significant importers of used clothing, the data shows.

Around 1pc-2pc of each imported bale of used clothes ends up as waste, according to research commissioned by the association and published in September last year, based on 120 interviews with importers of second-hand clothes in Nairobi.

Njenga has met officials in Lithuania, Finland, and Sweden, to argue against the proposal, and plans to meet officials from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Trade and the Directorate-General for the Environment.