The chances of a container loaded with weapons or hazardous material finding its way to Kochi are considered remote.
Yet, International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), Vallarpadam, was witness to a scenario not quite unlike this on Monday when the terminal authorities opened a container marked ‘empty’ that was sent by CMA-CGM from Port Klang, Malaysia.
Some frenetic messaging between Kochi and Malaysia soon led to the discovery that the container was shipped from Brussels to Sydney and had got somehow mixed up with empty containers at Port Klang.
The plan now is to send the container in a vessel from the same line likely to set sail for Malaysia on Friday. The ‘empty’ container loaded with medicines had landed at Vallarpadam along with a full consignment of empty containers from Port Klang on Sunday.
“The mistake was noticed during an attempt to open the container at ICTT. As per rule, all empty containers have to be opened and checked. A seal was noticed while opening the container and, later, it was shifted to the container freight station for inspection. The container was found loaded with medicines,” said an officer with DP World, the operators of ICTT.
Bengal Tiger Line, Kochi, general manager C S Kartha, admitted such mistakes could lead to a potential security breach for the country.
According to ICTT officials, this is the first such incident at Vallarpadam since the ICTT became operational in February 2011.