The horrendous and repeated incidents of crimes being committed by gangs of criminals who use motorcycles are of deep concern. As stakeholders and motorcyclists ourselves, the Back-to-Basics Motorcycle Safety Mission (BTB) conscientiously supports calls for action on the issue. Well-reasoned strategic action is urgently required.
Over the past few years, many criminals have used motorcycles to commit crimes across Jamaica. Some could hypothesize that nationwide, there could be anywhere from a few hundred to as many as one thousand such criminals around. There are certainly enough such criminals gravitating towards motorcycles to be an urgent national security problem. However, the crisis ought to be viewed in its full context.
Over the past few years, tens of thousands of Jamaicans have opted to ride motorcycles to earn a legitimate living. From Negril right back to Morant Point, many are legitimately self-employed. We also personally know and have trained hundreds of riders, many of whom are legitimate commercial motorcyclists who ride with large company fleets, holding responsibility for movements that are literally the backbone of billion-dollar companies.
In all iterations, these are riders who utilize motorcycles as an essential part of legitimate activities to feed their families. There are even motorcyclists actively involved in the tourism industry. In describing the broad context that is Jamaican motorcycling, we may also mention sport and recreational riders and the positive camaraderie that thrives among some groups of riders.
By some estimates, the population of motorcyclists in Jamaica is between seventy thousand (70,000) and one hundred thousand (100,000) active riders. Many motorcyclists have themselves been targeted and murdered by “Bike Killers” just like other citizens in Jamaica, often without so much as a news report of the crime. Life means very little in this context.
The country desperately needs solutions to the ‘Bike Killer’ and ‘Bike Robber’ problems. Useless knee-jerk reactions such as ‘bans’ and traditional ‘crackdowns’ only serve to score cheap political points. True organization is the real key. Strategic solutions must be aggressive and severe in impact on the criminals, but must also be as fair as humanly possible to motorcyclists who are simply trying to earn a legitimate wage. Without such social balance, the likelihood of failure for such anti-crime measures is very high.
The BTB team hopes to make this country genuinely safer…not just from a road safety perspective. We therefore, call out to action-oriented Jamaicans both from the public and private sector. We are ready and willing to work together on solutions.
Tarik Zawdie Kiddoe
Founder / Chief Facilitator
BTB Motorcycle Safety Mission
Tarik Zawdie Kiddoe is an entrepreneur and is the conceptualizer and founder of the Back to Basics Motorcycle Safety Mission. The founding BTB Team also includes motorcyclists Andre Rickards (RIP), Jordan-Reu Mullings and motorsports personality Marcia Dawes.