An Analysis Of Determinants Of Accident Involving Marine Vessels In Nigeria’s Waterways

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An Analysis Of Determinants Of Accident Involving Marine Vessels In Nigeria’s Waterways


Cases of marine vessel accident involving personal injury, deaths, property and environmental damage have grown in tandem with increased oil prospecting and other commercial seaborne transportation activities in Niger-Delta / coastal regions of Nigeria.The incidence of marine vessel casualties and associated risk factors generate serious concern as further empirical evidence suggests that between 75-96% of marine vessel casualties are caused at least in part by some form of human error.

This study investigates the determinants of accident involving marine vessels in Nigeria’s waterways.Perceptual data analysed in this study were obtained from structured questionnaires administered to a random sample of marine vessel operators in marine terminals and anchorage locations. Findings from parametric tests using multinomial logit regression model indicate that human and environmental factors significantly affect probability of accident involving marine vessels. Policy implicationsof the results are discussed.

Keywords; Marine vessel accident; Human factor;Environmental factor; Abandoned wrecks; Navigation;Coastal waterway; Niger Delta

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title Page
  • Approval Page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgment
  • Abstract
  • Table Of Contents

Chapter One


  • 1.1 Background to the study
  • 1.2 Statement of problem
  • 1.3 Objectives of the study
  • 1.4 Research questions
  • 1.5 Hypotheses of the study
  • 1.6 Significance of the study

Chapter Two

Review Of Related Literature

  • 2.1. Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2. Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3. Accident / Risk Management Principles and Loss Control Theories
  • 2.4 Empirical review

Chapter Three

Research Methodology

  • Derivation of Empirical Model; The Multinomial Logit Model Formulation
  • Maximum Likelihood Estimation of The Model

Chapter Four

Data Presentation And Analysis

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

  • References

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the study

A vessel accident is an unintended happening. Its severity may vary from no vessel damage to the complete loss of the vessel, no cargo damage, to loss of the entire cargo, and no crew injuries to deaths (Talley, Jin, & KitePowell, 2005). Thus, vessels safety regulations and their enforcement focus on prevention and reduction of severity of marine vessel accident. Accident involving marine vessels is common in inland and coastal navigation where requisite safety regulation may not be strictly observed. This is of serious consequence since such occurrences impact on safety of shipping in inland/coastal and inland waterways especially in developing countries.

In recent times, cases of marine vessel casualties involving personal injury, deaths and property/ environmental damage have grown in tandem with increased vessel traffic associated with oil prospecting activities and other commercial seaborne transportation in Niger-Delta/coastal regions of Nigeria. For example, statistics (cumulative figures) based on the study carried out by Dogarawa (2012) indicate that between year 2000 to 2009, a total number of five hundred and fifty-two (552) persons died either as a result of marine vessel and boat capsizing or collision in inland waters of Nigeria. This figure indicates an average fatality rate of about 55 deaths per year excluding vessel and cargo losses, in Nigeria’s coastal and inland waterways in the last ten years. Based on anecdotal evidence from some of the investigated cases; over-loading, excessive speeding, poor attention to weather condition, abandoned wrecks on navigation channels, incompetence and inadequate navigational aids are implicated.

Across the globe, similar cases of marine vessels accidents at sea (and in seaports) have been documented. For example: Darbra and Casal (2004) conducted a study on 471 cases of marine accidents that occurred from 1941-2002 in Hong Kong. They observe that 57% of the accidents occurred while vessel was underway at sea and 43% of accident in ports. Various causal factors have been documented; for example, the Maritime Safety Authority of New Zealand asserts that between the periods of 1995-1996; 49% of marine vessel incidents were attributed to human factors, 35% due to technical factors while 16% were caused by environmental factors. Similarly Rothblum (2002), reports that between 75 and 96% of marine vessel casualties are caused atleast in part by some form of human error. Further empirical evidence also indicates that human error accounts for 84-88% of tanker accidents, 79% of towing vessel groundings, 89-96% of collisions, 75% of all collisions, 75% of fires and explosions (Rothblum, 2002).

Similarly, Talley et al. (2005) observe that UK Thomas P&I Club survey of 1,500 insurance claims for shipping accidents around the world between 1987 and 1990, had found that 90% of the accidents were caused by human error. Two-thirds of the accidents involving personal injury claims were due to human error, e.g. carelessness or recklessness under commercial pressures, a misplaced sense of overconfidence, or a lack of either knowledge or experience. Human factor in this context is defined by Rothblum (2002) as one of the following: incorrect decision, an improperly performed action, or an improper lack of action (inaction). These statistics are disturbing given the level of measures so far adopted by local and international organizations to improve the standard of shipping and navigation.

Maritime safety is governed by the combination of international rules and regulations, national regulations of the flag states and port states, port regulations, rules of the Classification Societies and Insurance Companies. In addition, quite a number of conventions have been ratified by contracting governments some of which include: International Conventions on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), Standards for Training and Watch Keeping (STCW); International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). Others are International Convention on Loadlines (LL) and Convention on International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea (COLREG) etc. This regulatory system, which is supported by the Safety Management Systems of the shipping companies serve as a framework for continuous assessment of safety regimes in the world maritime industry.

Prior to 1998, the focus of ratified IMO safety conventions was the vessel, e.g. its construction and equipment, rather than human actions aboard the vessel. The subsequent introduction of IMO’s International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention changed the focus from the vessel to human actions on board vessel. By this code, shipping lines are now required to document their management procedures for detecting and eliminating unsafe human behavior. This shift towards regulating human actions aboard a vessel was motivated by the fact that: (i) most vessel accidents are caused by human error; (ii) vessel accident claims are often attributed to human error; and (iii) it is less expensive to change human behavior than it is to redesign vessels for safety (Talley, et al., 2005).

1.2 Statement of problem

Accidents are undesired events resulting from unexpected combination of conditions that lead to adverse consequences such as injury, loss of life, economic loss, environmental damage and damage to or loss of property. Accident also refers to anything that happens without foresight and expectation; an unusual event, which proceeds from unknown cause or is an unusual effect of a known cause. The terms ‘marine accident and incident’ and ‘marine casualty’ denote undesirable events arising from shipping operations.

Accidents occur in almost all spheres of human existence and in most industrial occupations – manufacturing, construction, marine and air transportation, atomic energy etc. Accidents are not only injurious to lives and properties, but also hinder corporate business success. Consequently, a high level of safety performance is essential in hazardous work environments. As an unintentional event, accident involving marine vessel is common in inland and coastal navigation where requisite safety regulation may not be strictly observed. For marine organisations, an important concern is how to prevent vessel casualties involving personal injury, deaths, property and environmental damage by establishing and maintaining a culture of strict adherence to safety practices

1.3 Objectives 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.

1.4 Research questions

  1. What is the incidence of marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways?
  2. What are the risk factors that lead to marine vessel accidents in Nigeria’s waterways?

1.5 Hypotheses of the study

Consequently, we postulate and test the following hypothesis at α = 0.05:

  1. Human factors related to safety training, overloading of vessel and speeding are not significant causes of marine vessel accident.
  2. Environmental factors related to wind, visibility, sea condition and weather condition do not significantly cause marine vessels accident.
  3. Marine vessel equipment/machinery failure is not significant causal factor of accident.

1.6 Significance of the study

The key to preventing marine vessel accident caused by human related factors however is to identify the types of risk factors, and then apply relevant intervention to check those factors in the future. Many operators undertake such efforts internally, and the IMO and industry trade groups have made significant advances in developing prevention programs that address human factors.

However, there is room for improvement, both in terms of preventive initiatives and the metrics used to gauge their effectiveness. The outcome of this research will improve both our understanding of the contribution of human and other causal factors of accident involving marine vessel and hence support implementation of prevention measures that effectively target these factors.

Chapter Five

Conclusion And Recommendation

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. These results call to question the level of regulation or coastguard inspection by the responsible authority in Nigeria. Based on the findings of Dogarawa (2012), most marine crafts operating in Nigeria’s coastal and inland waterways are not registered (perhaps in attempts to evade taxation). This situation renders inspections on vessels’ construction and operating conditions difficult. Consequently, marine vessel accident would likely not be reported to the responsible authority to avoid arrests. Presently, it is not clear which government parastatal is responsible for coastguard duties. Although there is statutorily in place

The Maritime Guard Command which is jointly operated by The Nigerian Navy and Personnel of Nigeria Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for coast guard responsibilities; but there appears to be a conflict of interests among other stakeholders: Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency. There is considerable overlap of responsibilities of these organizations as provided in the Acts establishing them and this could be a source of the conflict. Thus, it has become imperative in view of safety of navigation, for the Federal government to resolve these issues and establish the responsible organization for coast guard duties.

This study attempts to model marine vessel accident risk factors empirically using evidence from a developing country’s context. The cross sectional and largely perceptual nature of the data employed for this research may affect the generalizability of the findings. Perhaps, an enriched panel data describing marine vessel incidents and experiences of the operators over time may likely produce more robust results in future studies. Owing to the obvious limitations in data availability, no attempt was made to disaggregate the study based on classes, types of marine vessels and associated risk factors. Future efforts should therefore consider a more disaggregated study.

An Analysis Of Determinants Of Accident Involving Marine Vessels In Nigeria’s Waterways

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An Analysis Of Determinants Of Accident Involving Marine Vessels In Nigeria’s Waterways


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