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Senate gives nod to Caribbean Maritime University

Published:Saturday | February 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
The Caribbean Maritime Institute.
Dr Fritz Pinnock

An untidy committee session of the Upper House yesterday marred what was an otherwise rare sitting of the Senate, where not a single senator opposed the bill to make way for the Caribbean Maritime Institute Act, to now be known as the Caribbean Maritime University Act.

Senator Ruel Reid, who piloted the bill, also deputised for Leader of Government Business Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, who was absent.

The bill was passed with 26 amendments in front a gallery filled with students and lecturers from the Palisados, Kingston-based institution.

The 10 senators who spoke yesterday gave glowing tributes to Dr Fritz Pinnock, who is slated to become the first president of the university. They were unanimous and generous in their praise of his visionary leadership, the discipline of the students, the economic opportunities the university has brought to the nearby communities, the marketability of the students and the economic benefits the graduates will bring to the Jamaican economy.




Reid praised Pinnock for his trailblazing effort in creating a niche market university while supporting the need for maritime clubs across the island.

Senator Mark Golding praised the effort of Pinnock for creating an institution of international repute, while he used the opportunity to tidy elements of the language of the bill.

Senator Don Webhy said the university should be marketed as a foreign exchange earner, while Senator Wensworth Skeffery said he hoped the way was being paved for individuals from rural Jamaica to study there.

Senator Kavan Gaye said it was significant that it was coming to the Upper House on the 133rd birthday of Sir Alexander Bustamante - a champion for port workers, while Senator Floyd Morris praised the effort of former minister Horace Clarke for planting the seed which has led to the CMU.

Senator Angela Brown-Burke said the university was providing training for women in non-traditional areas, and Senator Lambert Brown went copiously through the bill to make sure that workers' rights were protected.




An untidy session followed when the Senate was dissolved into a committee to consider the clause by clause amendments. Senators were asked to vote on amendments they did not have, as insufficient, correct copies of the amended sections were unavailable.

In one instance, one copy of the amendment was sent to the Opposition benches for the five senators, with Reid intructing them to "share". Reid found himself reading and re-reading amendments, plus making trips to his "technical people" for advice on aspects of the bill, much to the disinterest of government senators, who found other ways to amuse themselves.

Brown's concern that the minister appeared to have a strong hand in the selection of the council members was rejected.