A week after a large consignment of undeclared weapons and a white powder — suspected to be cocaine — was found hidden in a shipment of trucks meant for a United Nations peacekeeping mission, the UN Secretary-General and the UN Information Centre-Nairobi have issued a statement claiming that the failure to declare the weapons in the shipping manifest had occurred due to miscommunication between the Indian authorities and the UN contractor who was responsible for the shipment. The statement made no reference to the white powder.

Also read: Kenyan cops find drugs in ship carrying trucks from Mumbai for UN mission

In a front-page report, mid-day had highlighted how the port authorities at Mombasa, Kenya, had found the powder and the dismantled weapons hidden in Tata Motors trucks that had been shipped out of Mumbai for a UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo.

The shipment was carried by the Norwegian vessel, the Hoegh Transporter, but the official manifest had no mention of either the powder or the weapons (‘Kenyan cops find drugs in ship carrying trucks from Mumbai for peacekeeping mission’, September 23).

The seizure blew the lid off a suspected international drug cartel, which Mumbai’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is now investigating. The press statement emailed to mid-day by the UN authorities states that the weapons “were part of a legitimate and declared” cargo packed in Mumbai to be sent to the UN peacekeeping force in the Congo.

The release further said the weapons had not been placed in the tyres for concealment, but to protect them from damage: “The weapons were declared in the bill of lading but not in the manifest.

It is normal practice for weapons attached to the APCs (armoured personnel carrier) to be dismantled and placed inside the carriers in order to avoid damage whilst being shipped.” The UN spokesperson further wrote that the Indian authorities had provided a list of the weapons on board only after the ship had sailed from Mumbai.

“A request was sent by the UN contractor responsible for the shipment to the Mombasa ship agent, to amend the manifest, but since this was not possible, a declaration of the weapons accompanying the military vehicles was attached,” the email stated.