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Prime Minister Opens Modern Multi-million Dollar Infant School in South West St. Andrew

Toni Oliversecure

Asserting that education is one of the greatest weapons against poverty, Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for South West St. Andrew, Portia Simpson Miller officially opened the new state-of-the-art Union Gardens Infant School in her constituency on Wednesday, January 13.  The multi-million dollar institution was made possible through a successful private-public sector partnership managed by the Union Gardens Foundation, which was established to guide the development of the Union Gardens Infant School project. Construction began in March 2015 and was completed in September 2015.

The modern environmentally friendly institution features a spacious auditorium and classrooms; covered walkway-linked buildings with play areas; and landscaped common areas, among other features. The school accommodates children, aged three and a half to five years, with a bus assigned to shuttle the children to and from school, at no cost.

“As Member of Parliament and Prime Minister I want to thank all the donors on behalf of a very grateful constituency,” Mrs. Simpson Miller expressed. “I want to single out my friends the Honourable Glen Christian and Mr. Gary Hendrickson. They continue to give dedicated leadership to the Union Gardens Foundation and the initiative to build this school,” the Prime Minister added.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (right); and Head of Delegation for the European Union (EU) in Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amedei, unveil a plaque at a ceremony to officially open the new state-of-the-art Union Gardens Infant School in South West St. Andrew on Wednesday, January 13. Construction of the school was completed in September last year, through a $174 million public-private investment partnership, which included support of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, through its EU Poverty Reduction Programme.

Echoing the Prime Minister’s sentiments on the importance of education to economic development, Mr. Glen Christian, Chairman of the Union Gardens Foundation said that “we cannot have a progressive economy without proper education of our people.” In this regard, Minister of Education, Reverend Ronald Thwaites noted that “education is the winner of this Administration.” He noted that under the Prime Minister’s leadership, the percentage of the budget spent on education has increased from 3 to 14 percent.

Noting that early childhood education has remained among Government’s highest priorities, Prime Minister Simpson Miller outlined some of the key development initiatives undertaken to date. She said that her Administration has provided better facilities for children; building more than 100 early childhood schools and upgrading another 100. Some 300 basic schools were also merged to create more than 100 infant schools of the highest quality and the number of trained teachers in early childhood schools was doubled and their compensation improved. The Prime Minister noted that “Union Gardens Infant School is now the most recent example of the commitment of my Government to early childhood education.”

Addressing the important role that parents must play in their children’s education, the Prime Minister urged them to be integrally involved. “I want to emphasize the critical role parents play in socializing infants, inculcating values and stimulating their awareness. If we want a better society there has to be better parenting,” she said. Mrs. Simpson Miller also underscored the importance of community involvement. “The community must help to ensure that children are protected and cared for. The community must ensure that school facilities, such as this one, are protected and preserved,” she said.

Some of the private sector donors and partners include Cari-Med and Kirk Distributors Foundation; Tank-Weld Group; National Baking Company Foundation; Seprod Limited; Sandals Foundations; Kingston Wharves Limited; Stewart Industrial; Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS); Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS); BH Paints; Gleaner Company Limited; and Food for the Poor. Public sector partners include: the Ministry of Education; Culture, Health, Arts, Sports, and Education (CHASE) Fund; and Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (centre), looks at a plaque detailing the sponsors of the state-of-the-art Union Gardens Infant School, at the official opening of the institution on Wednesday, January 13. Others (from left) are: Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites; and Managing Director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Mr. Omar Sweeney. The school, located in South West St. Andrew was constructed last year through the collaboration of several public and private partners.

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About Stewart Industrial Jamaica

Stewart Industrial is one of Jamaica’s largest distributors of heavy equipment and commercial vehicles.
Providing after sales services and units to the Mining, Construction, Agricultural, Tourism, Trucking, Material Handling, Power Generation and Transportation sectors, We don’t just sell… WE PARTNER!

St Catherine FA attracts sponsorship for youth programme

Toni Oliversecure

President of the St Catherine Football Association (SCFA) Peter Reid revealed a new sponsorship deal of $1.2m received from Stewart Industrial to support the FA’s Youth Development Program within the parish.

This sponsorship, announced recently at Arian’s Restaurant in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, is set for two years and will cover the Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 age groups. “As the general manager of Jamaica’s largest distributor of heavy equipment and commercial vehicles, we know what it means to work hard. It requires commitment, dedication and a drive that should be instilled from a young age,” said general manager of Stewart Industrial James Lechler after handing over the cheque to Reid.

“So naturally, sponsorship of this esteemed Youth Development Program, primarily the age groups of U-13s, U-15s and U-17s is the perfect fit for our brand. With Jamaica’s high crime rate, we feel that the more of our country’s youth that have access to enjoying sporting activities, health and physical fitness and team building, is the more children we will have focused on their personal and community development and less on finding ways to get into trouble.”

Reid expressed gratitude at having a new sponsor on board. “On behalf of the St Catherine Football Association, the executive members and its affiliates, I welcome this partnership and will be doing everything possible to make this sponsorship a mutual success,” said the FA president.

Stewart Industrial is one of Jamaica’s largest distributors of heavy equipment and commercial vehicles. The company provides after-sales services and units to the mining, construction, agricultural, tourism, trucking, material handling, power generation and transportation sectors.

SCFA also used the occasion to recognise Portmore United FC for the team’s recent outstanding performance, topping Group D of the 2017 Caribbean Club Championship and advancing to the final stage of the competition to be held in Trinidad and Tobago, when six teams will compete for four places in the CONCACAF Champions League.

—Bev Melbourne


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Barnes tops Stewart Industrial Sporting Clays Championship

Toni Oliversecure

Former national champion Shaun Barnes topped a field of 91 shooters to claim the Stewart Industrial Sporting Clays Championship at Woodliegh Shooting Range in Clarendon on Sunday.

With defending champion Richard Azan off the island, Barnes stamped his class on the two-day 200-bird championship, which started on Saturday, as he outgunned a field of veteran shooters, including Errol Ziadie and many-time national champion Ian Banks.

Barnes, who led proceedings on both days, ended with an impressive score of 172 and had 19 kills from 25 shots in the thrilling super-six shoot-off to finish with an overall 191. He won ahead of Ziaide (184) and Banks (178), with Geoffrey Ziadie (176), Robert Yap Foo (171) and Craig Simpson (166) completing the top six. The ladies section was topped by 16-year-old Jolie Chen, who outgunned Marguerite Harris in a mouth-watering shoot-off after both shooters ended the tournament on 97, shooting 50 birds each day.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Ziadie’s 167 prior to the shoot-off was good enough to top the A Class, while Mark Desnoes (147) and Jordan Thwaites (136) finished tops in the B and C classes, respectively. Brandon Laing (123) and Gordon Laing (123) were the D and E class winners, with Jake Therrien (130) signalling a return to form to top the juniors division.

Desnoes also topped the sub-junior category, and Matthew Sale (110) reigned supreme in the Hunters class. The awards function celebrating the success of the shooters was slated for last evening.

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Stewart Industrial Forging Ahead With FUSO

Toni Oliversecure

Stewart Industrial, part of the Stewart’s Automotive Group, is looking to gain a stronger foothold in the commercial vehicle market with the addition of five new Mitsubishi FUSO trucks. Three of them, the FA 914 Rigid Truck Chassis, the FI 1214 Box Body Truck, and the FUSO FI 1217C Dump Truck, were launched at Hope Gardens last Wednesday. The trucks are products of a partnership with FUSO and big money car maker Daimler AG. The trucks are manufactured at a new state-of-the-art plant in Chennai, India.

General manager of Stewart Industrial, James Lechler, lauded the partnership with FUSO. “Mitsubishi FUSO and Stewart Industrial are committed to providing you, our customers, with full support to ensure your vehicles stay on the road,” he said. “We service what we sell.”

Marcos Miazima, FUSO’s customer services manager for Central and South America, said the brand’s popularity in Jamaica has been very heartening. “We imagined at the beginning that there would be some hesitation, but it didn’t happen at all,” he said. “The most important thing I believe is the partnership with Stewart’s because service is the key. Without service, without spare parts, there will be no success.”

Brian Blair, sales manager at Stewart Industrial, said since its creation in 2010, the company has been thriving, particularly in the mining sector. He also boasted about the company’s array of construction equipment. “At the moment, I consider that we are the leader. Our JCB backhoe has a 90 per cent market share in the island,” said Blair. He said the company has started to redevelop their trucks and has increased market output annually.

“So the perception of FUSO not being a good truck has now gone away. People are trusting in the product, people are believing in the product,” he said. Blair believes the new trucks will give Stewart Industrial a huge market input. He opined that for medium-duty class trucks, it is rare to find them with air brakes and the technology the FUSO trucks offer. With the three trucks all starting below J$10 million, he believes they are economically priced.

“The trucks are state-of-the-art, the factory does everything in terms of the Daimler standards, it’s not like they’re cutting corners,” he said. “The trucks are built in India to take into consideration the operating costs so we have low operating costs, and we’re still producing an excellent product.”

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Stewart Industrial Aims To Double Truck Sales In Two Years

Toni Oliversecure

Stewart Industrial pulled the wrappers off of a line of medium to heavy duty trucks on Wednesday night and is aiming to corner 35 per cent of the market in two years. Managing Director James Lechler declared his intentions to Gleaner Business, saying those plans will be bolstered by the output of a US$1.5 billion FUSO plant recently opened in Chennai, India.

The FUSO trucks to be sold by Stewart extends the Mitsubishi line of vehicles represented by the Jamaican dealer in this market.

“We’ve made a commitment to FUSO to increase our sales dramatically in Jamaica. The value of the yen previously has been an asset to us in terms of retail price plus the economical pricing out of India and we’re now making a very strong move to be a leader in the truck industry in Jamaica,” Lechler said.

Three trucks were on show on the East Lawns of Hope Gardens on Wednesday night — a 9.6-ton Cab and Chassis FA priced at $6.1 million; the Box body FI at $9.6 million; and a 13-ton dump truck at $7.5 million. Lechler indicated that he is aiming to take market share away from Toyota’s HINO sold by Toyota Jamaica, Ford represented by Kingston Industrial Garage, and ISUZU sold by Vehicles & Supplies.

Since 2010, Stewart Industrial has been concentrating on heavy duty equipment suitable for mining, freight haulage and heavy lifting. This left their 22 Bell Road facility with spare capacity. Lechler feels he now has the goods to stake a claim on new business.

“Combined with the other brands, we represent which are Mercedes Benz, Commercial and Freightliner we can now offer trucks from light duty right through to heavy duty in any body application you want,” the Lechler said.

In the same vein as other divisions of the Stewart Automotive Group, Stewart Industrial is also offering financing for truck acquisition through Simpson Finance. With a 20 per cent deposit, truck buyers can get financing for up to seven years at 10.99 per cent per annum.  Blair says they are also prepared ‘to work with existing clients’ to cater to their needs.

The FUSO line of trucks comes with a 3.9 litre diesel engine. The FA and FI trucks deliver 140 horse power and 420 Newton/metre of torque, while the FJ dump truck series punch out 170 hp with 520 nm of torque.


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