Brother channels grief over sister’s death into advocacy for road safety

Maleek Powell speaking at the Symposium on Traffic Crash Investigation and Black Box Analysis in August. (Photo: Adrian Walker)

Maleek Powell, who lost his sister in a horrific car crash last month, is on a mission to promote road safety.

He is looking to start an advocacy group, which will support the Government’s continued drive to foster an orderly and disciplined traffic culture among Jamaicans.

Maleek shared that he has always been concerned about road safety, but the devastating loss of his sister when the taxi she was travelling in collided with another vehicle, gave him the push towards advocacy.

The taxi driver and another passenger also perished in the crash, which occurred along the Dyke Road in Portmore on August 5.

Since the tragedy, Maleek has used social media to make an impassioned appeal for more responsible use of the nation’s roadways.

His tweets brought him to the attention of the Ministry of Transport and Mining, which invited him to speak at its inaugural Symposium on Traffic Crash Investigation and Black Box Analysis held at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) in August.

Maleek expressed delight in participating in the symposium as part of his road safety mission. 

“It’s something I’ve been pushing for… If there is….one good thing that came from the death of my sister it is that it has provided me with a platform to speak,” Maleek said.

“I have pledged my time, my own resources, and I am committing to fighting for safer roads in Jamaica, because no Jamaican should ever, ever have to receive a call at seven o’clock in the morning that your sister has just died trying to get to work,” he adds.

He is appealing for persons to join him in developing this advocacy group “where citizens of Jamaica are able to speak out about these things. A lot of discussions are being had in pockets, and what I want folks to understand is that a unified voice is a powerful voice”.

Statistics from the Road Safety Unit indicate that as at September 23, a total of 315 persons have been killed in traffic crashes.

Motorcyclists, pedestrians, pedal cyclists and pillions account for 64 per cent of the fatalities. The majority were males 281 (89 per cent), while 34 were females (11 per cent).

“My sister has died. There’s nothing that… is going to bring her back, but if it is that we can get together…then other persons will not have to suffer the way my family is suffering right now”

Maleek shared that the group he wants to create will encourage persons to avoid drivers who display reckless and irresponsible behaviour, flout the traffic laws, and are repeat offenders.

“We find that certain behaviours seem to have permeated our society and you see it every single day when you go out on the road, and it’s not just the taxi men. It is a behaviour that seems to have formed itself as part of our culture and is something that we encounter with truck drivers, bus drivers, public and private vehicle operators, and it’s something that can be easily fixed,” he argues.

“My sister has died. There’s nothing that anybody can do or say that is going to bring her back, but if it is that we can get together as a people and support the Government’s efforts to effect change, then other persons will not have to suffer the way my family is suffering right now,” he said.

“We have to do what is best for Jamaica and I just want to get people together to lobby for a safer Jamaica; safer roads for Jamaicans, because we [cannot] continue on our current trajectory.

Persons interested in joining this new road safety advocacy group can contact Maleek Powell on the social media platforms Twitter @MaleekPowell or Instagram @becausemiblackja or the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining at 876-754-1900 or 876-754-2811 or email rsu@mtw.gov.jm.