Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | July 29, 2009
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Styrofoam to ease Ja's housing woes

The Ministry of Water and Housing will be pursuing discussions with Free Form Factory Limited, local manufacturers of expanded polystyrene (EPS) concre-panels, with a view to utilising the material in the development of affordable housing solutions in Jamaica.

Portfolio minister Dr Horace Chang made the announcement when he and technical persons from the ministry recently toured the factory located at 6 Nanse Pen in Kingston, where they were given a first-hand demonstration of how the concre-panels are manufactured.

Chang expressed hope that a partnership could evolve from the discussions, which would better enable the Government to deliver on housing needs. He pointed out that 14,000 units were required per year, over the next 10 years, to meet current demand.

The company, operated by businessman, Keith Edwards, and wife, attorney-at-law and company director, Vivalyn Edwards, commenced operations in 1992, primarily manufacturing bean bags and soft furniture.

Mrs Edwards told the touring party that between 2000 and 2005, research conducted led to the expansion of Free Form's operations to incorporate the manufacturing of the concre-panels to meet the "emerging needs" of new hotel developments, particularly by the Spanish chains, which she pointed out, use EPS foam, commonly known as Styrofoam.

"We began to see (that) ... it really could be used in the construction of houses, she said.

Chang said the ministry was looking into the possibility of starting construction on 10,000 housing units at Portmore and "a couple of other sites" this fiscal year.

Media group condemns threats to journalists

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has condemned the violent threats allegedly made by People's National Party (PNP) supporters to journalists on Sunday.

The incident reportedly occurred at a meeting of the National Executive Council of the PNP which was held at the University of the West Indies in St Andrew.

"While we note the attempts by PNP officials to address the situation on the ground, it is troubling to the local media fraternity that persons attached to a 70-odd-year-old political organisation, that has formed the government on several occasions, believe they are at liberty to harass journalists carrying out their legitimate duties. Journalists must be free to conduct their normal activities without fear," the PAJ said on Monday.

Noting that attacks of that nature could compromise Jamaica's reputation for press freedom, the organisation further said: "Against this background, the PAJ is demanding that the leadership of the PNP send a clear message to its supporters that it does not approve of the attack mounted against the media."

Huge support for Clarendon festival

Hundreds of residents turned up on Sunday to support the second staging of the Clarendon Crab and Seafood Festival at Vere Technical High School in Hayes.

The event was organised by the Lionel Town Zone Committee, in collaboration with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

Cultural organiser for Clarendon, Matthew Lawrence, told the Jamaica Information Service it was ideal to have the festival in that location, because of the thriving fishing industry at the Rocky Point Fishing Village.

Lawrence said the event was held again this year because of the overwhelming support by patrons last year.

"We did it last year and we got a good turnout and patrons loved it, so we tried it again," he explained.

He said there were plans to make the festival an annual event. "We see the Seafood Crab Festival continuing in the years to come, as our core sponsors have increased their contributions. So next year it is going to be even bigger and better," he added.

Deaf community receives HIV education

Some 20 deaf peer educators in Manchester have been armed with the skills and techniques to help to reduce the vulnerability of the deaf community to HIV/AIDS.

During a five-day workshop held at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Knockpatrick, the educators learnt counselling techniques and how to use cultural tools, such as dance, in the education process.

It was sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as part of a Caribbean-wide HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention project, which involves collaboration with the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD).

UNESCO project coordinator for the Caribbean, Yolanda Duran-McKlmon, said Jamaica was one of six countries in the region to benefit from the project, which involves a cultural approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and education among vulnerable groups.

"Many of the UN (United Nations) agencies are supporting work in HIV and AIDS. However, UNESCO is uniquely positioned in that (we) can use culture as a tool to reach the deaf community," she pointed out.

McKlmon said the project will be supported by UNESCO for two years in Jamaica at a cost of US$15,000 (J$1.3 million).

Entrepreneurial orientation ends

The final round of Young Entrepreneurs Programme (YEP) orientation sessions, a project aimed at encouraging school leavers at the secondary and tertiary levels with a passion to operate their own business, were held last Friday in Manchester.

The sessions were originally scheduled for July 8, but were postponed as a result of the ban on public gatherings in Manchester, due to the spread of the influenza A H1N1 virus.

The YEP Programme, which also opens up access to training and financing and establishes viable small businesses, was announced by Prime Minister Bruce Golding during the 2009-10 Budget Debate.

It has received $200 million in funding, which will be made available by the Development Bank of Jamaica to micro-finance institutions (MFIs) for on-lending to school leavers with feasible business ideas.

The participating MFIs are: JN Small Business Loans Limited, Nation Growth, Access Finance Services Limited, Micro Credit Limited and selected credit unions through the Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League.

The majority of the participants lauded YEP as a meaningful programme that will help propel aspiring young entrepreneurs into their own businesses.

"I find it interesting and I think the Government is doing a good thing in helping young people, because leaving college and leaving high school, sometimes you do not know where to turn to start your own business, so I think it's a great idea," remarked Kerry Williams.

The Mandeville session attracted 30 participants, while at Christiana there were eight.

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