Transportation Project Topics

An Analysis on Determinant of Accident Involving Marine Vessels in Lagos

An Analysis on Determinant of Accident Involving Marine Vessels in Lagos



1.3 Objective of the study

The objectives of this study are to:

  1. Assess the incidence of marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways.
  2. Determine the risk factors that lead to marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways.

Research hypotheses

In the course of this study, three main hypotheses are formulated.

Hypothesis One

Ho:   there is no incidence of marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways.

Ha:   there is incidence of marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways.

Hypothesis Two

Ho:   there is no risk factors that lead to marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways

Ha:   there is risk factors that lead to marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways





Kite-Powell and Talley (2012) investigate the determinants of the vessel damage severity of cargo vessels involved in accidents using the US Coast Guard data covering the period 2001-2008. Four types of cargo vessel (freight barge, freight ship, tank barge and tanker) were considered in the study. The basic research questions were to find if the accident vessel damage severity of cargo would likely be greater for a certain type of vessel, vessel accident, vessel characteristic, visibility condition, vessel propulsion, hull construction and season. The findings suggest that freight ships are less vulnerable to vessel accident damage than freight barges, tank barges and tankers. Freight barges are found to be more likely to incur more vessel damages and total loss. Older vessels are more prone to accidents at nights while large vessels with steel hulls are expected to incur less vessel damage if the accident occurred in summer. Abandoned vessels are prone to total loss in the event of accident. Özgecan et al. (2008) employ simulations to model safety risk factors affecting transit maritime traffic vessels underway the strait of Istanbul. These factors include vessel arrival rates, scheduling pilotage, overtaking policies, and local traffic conditions. Safety risk analysis was performed by incorporating a probabilistic accident risk model into the simulation model. A mathematical risk model was developed based on probabilistic arguments regarding instigators, situations, accidents, consequences and historical data as well as subject-matter expert opinions. Scenario analysis was carried out to study the behavior of the accident risks, with respect to changes in the surrounding geographical, meteorological and traffic conditions. This framework enabled the investigation of the impact of various factors on the risk profile of the Strait. Local traffic density (environmental factor) and pilotage were identified as the two main factors affecting the risks at the Strait of Istanbul. In addition, the model indicates that pilots are of utmost importance for safe transit and lack of pilotage (human related factor) significantly increases the risks in the Strait. The conclusion of this study recommends the availability and deployment of more pilots to support the transit vessels in their navigation through the Strait. Psaraftis et al (1998) conduct a comprehensive analysis of the human element as a factor in marine accidents. The object was to investigate relationship between the various probable causes of an accident and the final outcome of the accident. The study finds that factors related to human errors: communication, organization procedures and routines, individual onboard situations, judgment and reactions constitute the single most common cause of marine accidents. Talley (2002) analysed the determinants of the fatal and non-fatal crew injuries of individual commercial US and foreign flag bulk container and tanker vessel accidents (investigated by the US Coast Guard for the time period 1981-1991). Empirical results suggest that the number of fatal crew injuries is greater for: (i) tankers than for container or bulk vessels, (ii) fire/explosion accidents than for other types of accidents; and (iii) multiple-than for single-vessel accidents. Non-fatal crew injuries are also greater for fire/explosion and multiplevessel accidents. In a related study of towboat vessel accidents, Talley (2002) also found that the number of both fatal and non-fatal accidents is greater for (i) Docked or moored vessels than for underway vessels; and (ii) fire/ explosion accidents than for other types of accidents. Leck (2008) proposes a framework for incorporating weather condition criterion in performing risk analysis that pertains to ships underway at sea. Thus, all forces of the sea should be decomposed into hazardous situations and other possible ship capsizing scenarios. Using event and fault tree analytical tools, the probabilities associated with these scenarios should then be analysed. Wang et al. (2002) assess ship performance in accidents and propose a framework for design of robust marine structures that can endure in accidents. Building on data obtained from three criteria; definition of accident scenarios, procedures for evaluating consequences, and criteria for approval or acceptance of a design; the framework suggests inputs that can be employed in the design of marine structures robust enough to sustain ships integrity and minimize damage to the environment in marine accidents. Jina and Eric (2005) however were more concerned with management of fishing safety and modeled accident involving fishing vessels using logit regression and daily data collected from 1981 to 2000. The study found that higher wind speeds are associated with greater accident probability and that accidents are more likely to occur closer to shore than offshore. In a related theme, Wang et al (2005), investigate causes of accidents involving fishing vessels in the UK using secondary data. Data analysis indicates that machinery damage contributes over 50% of all accidents. Other factors include flooding and foundering, grounding, collision and contact. In port locations, Yip (2008) investigates port traffic risk employing historic accidents records involving oceanic ships which visited Hong Kong port. Using negative binomial regression model, it was found that collision accidents are the frequent incidents in heavy port traffic situations. Passenger-type vessels were found to have higher potential for injuries during accidents. Among the variables tested which explain occurrence of accidents; vessel’s port of registry, type of vessel, type of waterway were found significant. Lin et al. (1998) present an analysis on the factors contributing to groundings when ships transit in and out of ports. Using grounding location database generated and verified with United States Coast Guard’s grounding accident data, two factors were analyzed—tide and time of day. The results suggest that tide forecast error (predicted tide water level minus observed tide water level) had no significant effect as a risk factor, and that night navigation was far more risky than day navigation. Most of the studies reviewed so far were based on historical data collected while others were simulations meant to analyse risk scenarios. The review so far may not be exhaustive but rather provides a bird’s eye view of relevant factors and scenarios that explain marine vessel causalities at sea. These can be grouped under human, machine and environmental factors. The present study contributes to the existing knowledge by building on the findings from previous works to assess their validity with perceptual data on marine vessel accident in Nigeria’s waterways. In spite of limitations associated with rating response data (which may be prone to subjective influences), the data set of the present study is enriched since they were based on direct account of analytical units (the marine vessel operators) and not historical records.

Conceptual Framework

Reference explains an accident as unexpected, unplanned and unintentional series of events leading to the physical injury of a person at work and/or damage to properties, equipments and the environment. In a study on theories of occupational accident, reference  opines that accidents occur when workers, properties and equipment are exposed to a danger factor (hazard), such that the worker is injured and the property is damaged with diminished value. Presenting a study guide on accident investigation and control, reference defines the concept of accident as the final event in an unplanned process that results in injury, illness, property damage and possible environmental damage. It is the final effect of multiple causes and an event, that result in a damage of state of persons and properties involved. From the foregoing, it is observable that the occurence of accident diminishes the economic value and structure of properties and health states of persons involved. Reference distinguishes between accident and incidents, while accidents are observed to cause injuries and damages, incidents do not cause injuries and damages. Accidents also result from many factors, simultaneously interconnected, cross-linked events that have interacted in some dynamic way. It identifies that accidents also result from hazardous conditions and unsafe behaviours which represent risks that have been ignored and tolerated within the safety management system. In the guide for hazard analysis and control in a work environment, it notes that hazards are dangers, unsafe workplace conditions and practices which threaten physical harms to employees and to property and environment. It posits that these hazards (dangers) represent risks of damages and injuries that could occur with accidents, once there is exposure to it. In the views of reference, an accident is an occurrence that involves a sequence of events that must encompass unintentional injury or damage. Reference posits that accident phenomenon is distinguished from other phenomena such as murder, sabotage, suicide, war, and other willful injurious event by the singular characteristics of unplanned, unexpected or unintentional injury and/or damage.

Reference supporting the earlier position of  notes that the risk of traffic accident is influenced by the level of exposure to occupational/traffic related hazards. This agrees with the position of reference, that exposure to risks (hazards) causes accident. Risk is the probability than an accident (event) will occur and adversely affect the achievement of objectives. Reference in reference, considers risk as the chance of injury, damage or loss. Risk is further explained as an event where something that is of value to humans (including humans themselves) is at stake and where the outcome is uncertain. References definie risk as the effects of uncertainty on objectives notes that risk is the possibility that an event will occur and adversely affect the achievement of objectives. A diligent observation of the above definitions of risk show a synonymous relationship between accident and risk with the definition of both having common elements of unexpected loss, injury, damage, adverse outcome, uncertainty, probability, severity of consequences, etc. The concept of accident and risk therefore denotes the likelihood that employees, properties and investment exposed to hazards and unsafe condition may experience an event/action, whose casual factor may be multiple, single or in-chain, that will change its state by resulting to injury, damage and/or loss. The advent of motorized transport, offshore technology, and advancement in industrial technology has led to development of sea going vessels of various kinds, oil and gas exploration rigs, floating production storage and offloading systems (FPSO’s) and water crafts of various kinds. Advancement in offshore technology and ocean engineering also offers opportunity for development of underwater exploration and exploitation vehicles, pipeline technology system, cargo handling equipments of various kinds and capacity, onshore/port technology systems, all produced through the mastering and use of marine/ocean engineering and offshore technology and put into the sea for purposes of surface sea transportation, (shipping), underwater exploitation, surveillance and hydrographic studies, or stationed permanently at sea or near to enhance the purposes of harnessing the marine resources to the socio-economic benefit of the state. The concept of marine/maritime accident is the occurrence of an event/risks, in a ship or involving equipment, investment and properties exposed to the marine environment, that resulting to injuries to person at sea or in port, and damage to the marine property or investment. It encompasses accident in the sea or at port, quayside or anchorage, dockyards or shipyards etc. Maritime accidents are caused by exposure to risks, perils and hazards of the marine environment, provided that the accidental objects are at sea or being harnessed for sea movement, in port or in a dockyards and can be protected by a policy of marine insurance. It is immaterial whether the vessel or object involved in accident is sailing or stationary at the point and time of accident. The marine accident casualty investigation boards further defines a marine accident as one or more unexpected and undesired marine incident, which result in death or personal injury to crew, damage or loss of marine properties and seaborne cargo and harmful to the marine environment. The study adopted the definition given by reference as our definition of marine accident. The concept of maritime accident according the marine accident and casualty investigation boards is one or more unexpected and undesired marine incident, which result in death or personal injury to crew, damage or loss of marine properties or seaborne cargo, and harmful to the marine environment. Marine incident on the other hand was defined as undesired abnormal events occurring in the course of a marine adventure and likely to cause danger to man, ship’s architecture work or environment. References and opines that marine accident may not be limited to accident involving sea-going vessels and inland water boats but includes onshore mishaps such as crane cargo/handling accident in ports, accident involving oil exploitation platforms and mobile drilling units, accident in dockyards, collision leading to actual or pressurized loss of ship, her abandonment, material damage to her or disablement. While vessel accident is an unintended happening, its severity may vary from no vessel damage to loss of entire cargo, and crew injury to death. However, the code for marine accident and casualty investigations distinguishes between “very serious” and “serious” casualties. Very serious means a casualty to a ship which involves the total loss of ship and its cargo, loss of life or severe environmental pollution or damage. Serious casualty means a casualty which does not quality as a very serious casualty and which involves fire explosion, grounding, contact, heavy weather damage, ice damage, hull cracking or suspected hull defect resulting in structural damage rendering the ship unseaworthy such as penetration of the hull underwater, immobilization of main engines, extensive accommodation damage, pollution and /or breakdown necessitating towage or shore assistance. Reference opines that the main legal basis that formed the international background for maritime accident investigation lies in the United Nation convention on the law of the sea (UNCLOS), which states in article 9A that it is the responsibility of the flag state to institute an inquiry (investigation) into accidents on the high sea. Accidents occurring elsewhere, such as in coastal and inland waters are not covered by the UNCLOS, though the right of the coastal state to extend investigation to accident on such waters is not in contention and has been viewed as important in determining economic cost of marine accidents and their control measures. Reference in a study on analysis of maritime transportation risk factors grouped maritime accident into the following groupings

  1. Foundering b. Missing c. Fire explosion d. Grounding e. Collision / contact f. War loss / hostilities g. Mechanical fault / problem h. Hull problem i. Navigational problem j. Other problems not specified above.

The study further observed that accident in the marine industry are further identified by the data-bases of maritime casualty maintained and published by organizations that conduct accident investigation and analysis and regular statistical data updates, such organization include Lloyds maritime information services (LMIS), UK department of transport maritime accident investigation branch (MAIB), Institute of London underwriters (ILU), classification societies such as Det Norske Veritas (DNV), American Bureau of shipping (ABS), United States Coast Guard (USCG), The International Association of classification societies (IACS), and the Maritime Accident Investigation Board (MAIB) of various maritime states [29].

Theoretical Framework

Theoretically, the economic loss and impact of marine accident on the economy can be estimated based on the theories of accident causation, accident investigation and accident/risk management and loss control. These include the domino theory, the theory and principles of marine insurance, human capital theory (Gross Output Model) and the economic theory of natural resource damage assessment based on total revenue, price and quantity, (output) relationship, among others

 Accident / Loss Causation Theories

There exist many theories which seek to explain the causal factors of accident and the accident loss. The reason for many of the theories is to lay sound foundation for the understanding of the key accident causal factors, to enable application of control and management measures, to eliminate or reduce accident occurrence. Reference opines that accident theories support the valid opinions that accident are not always Acts of God and misfortunes to be suffered by people not at peace with gods, as believed until the 19th century when accident theory began to explain the causal factors of accidents. Thus accident theories provide explanation for occurrences of accidental losses and lay basic foundational steps for effective accidental damage and loss control and management. Some of the classical accident causation theories reviewed in this work include; the Domino theory, The Human Factor Theory (HFT), the Accident Incident Theory (AIT), Epidemiological Theory, the systems theory, the Accident Proneness Theory (APT), the combination theory of accident causation, Behaviour Theory (BT), the Energy Release Theory (ERT), energy damage model. Each of the accident causation theories attempts to predict accident and thus prevent its occurrence.

 The Domino Theory

Reference observes that the domino theory was developed and advanced by Heinrick in1959. In developing the domino theory, Heinrick conducted a research on industrial accident and concluded that 88% of accidents are caused by unsafe acts committed by people, 10% by unsafe condition and 2% by acts of God. The 2% caused by acts of God, he termed unavoidable accident. Thus the domino theory views that 98% of accident can be avoided by avoiding the causal factors.The domino theory explained that injury / loss results from series of events one of which is the accident itself. An accident it explains only result from an unsafe acts committed by someone and / or a physical hazard. Essentially, removal of the unsafe act or the unsafe condition prevents loss and damage. The theory states that while most accident result from peoples unsafe behavior and unsafe conditions, unsafe behaviours and conditions do not always immediately result in accident. Therefore finding the reason why people commit unsafe behavior can guide in adopting corrective measures. According to domino theory, the severity of an accident loss or damage is by chance rather than design and the accident that cause the loss and / or damage is preventable. The opinion of the domino theory is that management ought to take responsibilities for safety with the supervisor being the key person in the prevention of occupational and industrial accidents seeing as there were indirect losses incurred besides direct ones. Explaining the Domino theory, references and proposed a sequence consisting five factors that followed sequentially, that is, one factor resulting in the next. The first was ancestry and social environment which explains that negative traits causing people to commit unsafe actions may be inherited or acquired from the environment one was socialized. The second factor is fault of a person which explains that people act in unsafe manner as a result of the negative traits they acquired. The third factor is unsafe act or physical hazard / unsafe condition which directly result to accident. The fourth factor is accident which results in injury, damage and / or loss. The fifth and last factor is injury, damage and / or loss which is the consequence of accident. The figure below is an illustration of accident and loss occurrence by the domino theory.



5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was on an analysis on determinant of accident involving marine vessels in Lagos. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of determinant of accident involving marine vessels in Lagos


This study was on an analysis on determinant of accident involving marine vessels in Lagos. Two objectives were raised which included:         Assess the incidence of marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways and determine the risk factors that lead to marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 staffs of seaport, Lagos. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made controllers, administrative staff, senior staffs and HRM were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

5.3 Conclusion

 Safety of navigation and life at sea are important to coastal, flag states and the entire international shipping community in sustaining the growth of global seaborne trade. National governments and indeed the Federal government of Nigeria have committed considerable resources and efforts on programmes aimed at reducing the incidence of accident involving marine vessels at sea. For instance, the Maritime Administration of Nigeria recently expended considerable resources in clearing the waterways of abandoned wrecks to make for safe navigation. Again, The Maritime Guard Command (akin to the US Coast Guard) has been inaugurated to enforce shipping regulations. These efforts can greatly be enhanced by targeted intervention policies based on empirical analysis which identify specific accident risk factors. The categories of accident investigated in this study are fatal, non-fatal and damage accident. Results indicate that over 65% of accidents at sea involving marine vessels were of fatal and non-fatal category. Three categories of causality factors were of consideration in the study. These are human, environmental and machinery factors. The Human related factors accounted for over 50% of variations in the categories of accident investigated. This is followed by environmental factor which accounted for 30% while machinery factors accounted for 20% of accident risk factors. The human factors include the following: experience acquired by the vessel operator, safety training received, stowage condition of the vessel (overloading), and level of watching keeping maintained (improper lookout). These findings have implication on regulation and enforcement by relevant authorities. The level of regulation maintained by the flag states can reduce the contribution of these factors to accidents involving vessels at sea. Environmental factors investigated are: sea condition (current) and weather condition during navigation. Machinery factors include: equipment or machine failure. Environmental factors influences can be controlled to some extent by maintaining relevant database on tidal and weather forecasts.


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