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Preventing the pain of road deaths

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, April 24, 2017    

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The tragic death of Olympian and Jamaica record holder Germaine Mason is a stark reminder that motorcyclists represent a high percentage of Jamaica’s road fatalities. Thirty-four-year-old Mason lost his life early last Thursday morning when his bike crashed on the Norman Manley Highway. We share in the grief of his family and friends who remember him as a positive and thoughtful individual who overcame injuries and continued to bring glory to his adopted country, Britain. The Jamaica Relay team, who passed the scene of the crash on their way to the World Relays Championships, had to receive counselling.

Forty-nine-year-old Cecil Prawl, father of seven and co-owner of the popular Port Royal restaurant, Gloria’s, lost his life when he crashed at Lightbourne Corner in the community early Easter Monday, and he was flung out through the roof of his SUV. In a Jamaica

Observer report by Racquel Porter, Prawl’s sister and business partner Tanya Prawl is quoted as saying, “I see him every day. He is my business partner. He was a very kind person. If you leave him alone him give away the shop. If you don’t stand up on him, him give away the shop.”

His younger brother, Narado Prawl, mourned that he lost his brother on his birthday: “It was my birthday but it wasn’t. It rough, I try to sleep but I can’t sleep. I can’t even explain how good he was.”


Regrettably, both men were not using safety devices: Mason wore no helmet, and it seems that Prawl may not have been wearing a seatbelt. Their tragic passing is a call to enforce the laws that require the use of safety devices, as well as to use stronger messages to shock road users into better habits. The Police Traffic Division has revealed that out of the 103 road fatalities since the beginning of the year, one-third have been from motorcycle crashes.

Convenor of the National Road Safety Council Dr Lucien Jones has emphasised the deep and wide impact that road fatalities and injuries have on families, communities, and the nation’s economy. Families are plunged into poverty because they lose their breadwinners, or because they must take lifelong care of relatives no longer able to function. Promising students have been left bedridden for life. One young woman whose head went through a windshield says three years later she is still picking pieces of glass out of her face, as it was too dangerous for doctors to recover all the splinters.

Meanwhile, the health system is put under pressure by these frequent crashes, sometimes forcing doctors to make tough choices about whom to treat in multiple emergencies. There is one basic fact that we should all remember: speed is a killer. Students of physics may understand a little better the deathly impact caused by speed. Let us plan our days and show patience on our roads.

The various taxi and bus operators’ associations must step up and ensure that their members are well-trained, responsible citizens. Church, Government, community and corporate leaders should study and sign on to the road safety charter prepared by the National Road Safety Council. Indeed, every single one of us must take personal responsibility for our safety and the safety of others. Imagine, simple acts of buckling up and slowing down could have saved countless precious lives. We have to be more serious about road safety.

The courage to change Jamaica

A roomful of hope and courage. The 21 Face of Change Jamaica finalists gathered at King’s House last Friday to be awarded for their community development efforts. They were humble Jamaicans, some with special needs, who still found a way to assist children, the elderly and the homeless in vulnerable communities.

Jamaicans were invited to post videos of their community efforts on

Facebook or

YouTube in January. Ninety-six videos were received from mostly young people. After the 21 finalists were chosen, the public was asked to vote for the top three and the response was overwhelming: over 640,000 votes were cast. The top three were Bethel New Testament Church of God, Princesses and Ladies Inc, and The Eastwood Gardens Youth for Progress Youth Club.

Rev Geraud Brown, pastor of the of Bethel New Testament Church of God, is youthful, but speaks with wisdom of his church’s commitment to the people of Trench Town and surrounding communities. Cynthia Lincke is a US-based Jamaican who supports the development of young women through Princesses and Ladies Inc. She is now in the process of registering the organisation under the Charities Act, and expressed her undying support for her fellow Jamaicans. We should never underestimate the care that members of the Jamaican Diaspora have for their homeland — it is so moving.

Keynote speaker Ambassador Burchell Whiteman noted that the massive number of votes was proof that the contestants “inspired and encouraged their fellow Jamaicans to believe in their own possibilities”. He said the number of people who posted videos represented “a critical mass for real change”, and harked back to a time when “the whole community helped to care for the children”. He said that in pre-Independent Jamaica, a colonial representative asked one of our leaders how Jamaica was able to survive in spite of her poverty and was told, “It is very simple: the poor help the poor.”

Ambassador Whiteman told the young leaders that they had not only led the change, they are living the change. He expressed his faith in them, noting that they represented, in the words of poet A L Hendricks, “Jamaica: triumphant, proud and free.”

The Face of Change Jamaica project was created by the Digicel Foundation team, brilliant young millennials led by 33-year-old CEO Dane Richardson. I am constantly impressed by this generation who have such passion for their country that clock-watching is not in their vocabulary. As chair of the foundation, I was happy that the event took place the very week that Digicel was celebrating its 16th anniversary.

Digicel founder and chairman Denis O’Brien launched the foundation, in 2004 with a mission to support national development and has since contributed over US$30 million to programmes in education, special needs, and entrepreneurship for community development. The results of these partnerships have been outstanding, a credit to humble but ambitious Jamaicans who simply need a chance to fulfil their true potential.

Support for Kgn & St Andrew

When Paulette Sutherland of the Kingston & St Andrew JCDC branch requested support for the Miss KSA Festival Queen, my daughter agreed to sponsor a contestant via her business Café Nita and associate DeafCan Coffee. We recalled that two of the Jamaica Festival Queens we knew were absolutely outstanding — the charismatic Krystal Tomlinson and Chevening Scholar Kemesha Kelly. Contestants were assigned to sponsors via a draw at the sashing event held at the Ranny Williams Centre last Thursday, and Anita was delighted that the poised and articulate Deanna Clarke will represent her business. We appreciate that the emphasis in this competition is on talent and patriotism.

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com

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