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Monthly Archives

August 2020

CMU Student Taps into Family Business to Finance Tuition

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By the time Shemar Castell finalized his preparation in mid-March for the yearly work and travel programme in the United States (US), businesses worldwide were shutting down because of the coronavirus pandemic, disrupting the academic journey for millions of college students. But Castell, a 21-year-old student specializing in customs processes, freight forwarding and immigration at the Caribbean Maritime University, is no stranger to turning adversity into advantage.

Standing on the boardwalk along the Palisadoes Road, he recounted other setbacks he has overcame in his lifetime – monetary restraints, grief, and peer pressure. “I am known for my resilience ever since I was young,” he explained. Castell spent his early years in Seaforth St. Thomas, before moving into the corporate area for school.

“I moved to Kingston relatively early — I would say my life has been characterized by movement from various households. As a result, I attended three basic schools, three primary schools and a college before settling at the CMU, ” he shared.

However, with the new academic year less than one month away, Castell is focused for now on managing the day-to-day operation of his family business—Laundry Bucket an in-home pickup and drop-off laundry and dry-cleaning service.

“The business has been doing good so far. We have had a lot of repeat customers and we plan to expand our services to Mandeville and Montego Bay soon, ” he told us. ‘It was actually my uncle, Javette Nixon, who came up with the business idea and shared it with me. I was excited to be a part of it,’ he said.

And with university students around the island looking for ways to cope financially with the coronavirus pandemic, even as they fill out paperwork for student loan funds. While others, are adapting their business models and innovative ideas so that they can earn an income.

“Everyone was looking forward to the summer, ” he shared. But noted that the financial setbacks that accompanied the coronavirus, ‘has filled students with uncertainties in relation to our academic future.’

But with the fees under revision by the University Council, he is hopeful that there will be a reduction come September. “A lot of us [CMU students] are remaining optimistic that we may see a slight reduction in the fees prior to the start of the new academic year mainly because classes are now online, ” he expressed. “So, one would expect at least a reduction in the auxiliary fees.

He hinted that he is not a big fan of online learning, however, admitted that it presents a unique opportunity “to explore other online ventures while attending classes while observing the stay-at-home orders by the government. ”

For Castell, coronavirus was a catalyst for entrepreneurship.

“I am now seeing a lot of students creating new business ventures whether online or face-to-face. Personally, I want to implore students to be innovative, and instead of focusing on the problem, create solutions that can earn you an income and solve real-life challenges, ” he advised.

The M.L.C: An Abandoned Seafarers’ Lifejacket Part 1

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Written by: Jermaine Reid

In the last few weeks Jamaican news reporters have ensured that the Jamaican population is aware of the plight of thousands of Jamaican seafarers who want to return home but are unable to, since Jamaica closed its ports to cruise ships on March 14, 2020 in response to the first confirmed case of Covid19 on the island. Some persons may state that these seafarers’ have been abandoned, however, to determine what abandonment is under Maritime law one must examine the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.

On a cold winter morning of February 23, 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland a monumental day in Maritime Law history was unfolding at the International Labour Organization. After five years of intense meetings the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) was now ready for signing by member states.

With the stroke of a pen and the submission of instruments of accession to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Jamaica became a signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention on June 14, 2017. Seafarers who possess Jamaican citizenship are now protected by the extensive rights that this convention, dubbed the ‘Seafarers’ Bill of Rights’ conferred upon them.

The preamble of the MLC gives a clear coherent trajectory that its member states are expected to follow international standards on ship safety, human security and quality ship management. This is achieved by the five titles that the MLC is divided into:

1. Minimum Requirements for seafarers to work on a ship

2. Conditions of employment

3. Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering

4. Health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection

5. Compliance and enforcement

Conditions of Employment This international convention is one of such a magnitude that delving into all five would be quite voluminous. Title two by its very nature of Conditions of Employment is the source of most legal disputes as it encompasses: A. Seafarers’ Employment Agreement B. Wages C. Hours of work and Rest D. Entitlement to leave E. Repatriation F. Manning

The issue of abandonment is often intertwined with breach of Employment Agreement, none payment of wages and unreasonable working hours, which results in the seafarer wanting to be sent back to their home country i.e repatriated.

Seafarers’ Employment Agreement

This agreement is the lifeline of the seafarers’ connection to the ship owner and the ship. The MLC dictates that it shall be clearly written, have seafarers contact details, ship owners contact details, location agreement entered into, amount of wages, annual leave, termination conditions, health benefits and any other particulars required by national law. The MLC further ensures that the rights of the seafarer is protected by ensuring that seafarers are given an opportunity to get independent advice before signing the agreement. The employment agreement is in essence the major document a seafarer will get from the ship owner and as such it should contain relevant information of the ship owner and adequately protect the seafarer by allowing him to know the ship owner’s duties and obligations from before he even signs the employment agreement. In the event the seafarer or the ship owner decided to commence litigation the parties will know exactly who and where documents are to be served.

To be continued….

Resurrection of the Quarantine Act Part 2

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Part 2 continued…

Quarantine in Jamaica’s Territorial Waters

As expected the Quarantine Act has various provisions on how to handle ships that are coming to dock in Jamaica. Part II Section 4 mandates that “the master of a ship approaching the island from a foreign port shall ascertain the state of health of all persons on board and shall prepare and sign a declaration of health”. Section 6 puts even more health and safety measures in place by dictating “that every ship arriving in the island from a foreign port, shall be visited on arrival to the island by the visiting officer and the master shall surrender to the visiting officer the declaration of health and present to him for inspection any other ship’s papers which the visiting officer may desire to inspect.”

A Visiting Officer may grant permission to a ship to have dealings with a port if he is satisfied from the declaration of health and otherwise that during the voyage, or if the voyage has lasted longer than six weeks, during the six weeks immediately preceding arrival that (a) there has been no death or case of illness on board suspected to be due to infectious disease; (b) there has been no plague or undue mortality among rats or mice on board; (c) the ship has not called at an infected port: and (d) the ship was not overcrowded or in an insanitary condition.

As such one can see that the Quarantine Act ensures to protect Jamaica from infectious diseases entering the island from persons arriving by ship. Therefore it is seen that the old fashioned way of quarantining a ship has not been discarded but rather modified to ensure that there is as little disruption to world trade as is possible.

Quarantine on the Mainland

The Quarantine Act has even more challenges as it is harder to control the movement of people on the main land, however the Act still imposes regulations and restrictions on the Jamaican population as deemed fit, depending on the situation. Section 9 empowers the Quarantine Authority to make orders when an emergency exists, the Authority may by order direct special measures to be taken during the continuance of that emergency.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force at Section 12 of the Quarantine Act is given full authority to ensure that all persons on the island comply with rules and regulations born out of this Act, as it states:

12(1) It shall be the duty of every constable to enforce (using force if necessary) compliance with this Act and with any order, ‘instruction or condition lawfully made, given or imposed by any officer or other person under the authority of this Act; and for such purpose any constable may board any ship or aircraft and may enter any premises without a warrant’.

12(2) Any constable may arrest without a warrant any person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to have committed any offence against this Act.”

Offences and Penalties

For those amongst us who find it hard to follow rules and regulations Section 10 dictates what it considers to be an offence, it states:

Any person who:

  1. refuses to answer or knowingly gives an untrue answer to any inquiry made under the authority of this Act, or intentionally withholds any information reasonably required … or knowingly furnishes to any such officer information which is false; or
  2. …refuses or willfully omits to carry out any lawful order by any officer; or
  3. assaults, resists, willfully obstructs, intimidates, offers or gives a bribe to any officer

Section 12 further elucidates that If one is found guilty of the disorderly conduct mentioned above, they shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate, to a fine of five hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment with hard labour for six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.

Based on the aforementioned on can see that the golden thread running through the Quarantine Act is ensuring that persons who may be carriers of an infected disease will remain ‘inside’ the ship or ‘tan a yuh yard’ until the pandemic is brought under control.