Indonesia’s President Announces Plan to Move Capital from Jakarta to a Whole New Island

Indonesia President Joko Widodo gestures as he speaks during a press conference at the palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. Indonesia’s president has announced to relocate the country’s capital from overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta to East Kalimantan province. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Indonesia’s got some big plans. FMI’s Bruce Allen explains, “On Monday, August 26, President Joko Widodo announced that the government plans to shift the capital away from the megacity of Jakarta that’s on the island of Java, and put it on a totally new island: the island of Borneo.”

It’s not a new idea. History points to multiple efforts to move Indonesia’s capital city, beginning in 1945. This time, though, science is on Widodo’s side, says Allen. “Literally, Jakarta is sinking.This megalopolis of Jakarta and its suburb is already 40% of its area below sea level, and continues to sink up to eight inches a year.”

Back when Jakarta emerged as the capital city, planners considered it well suited to hold five to six million people. However, “this metropolis is now home to 30 million people. That’s creating a lot of problems, traffic, gridlock, pollution, litter, issues with groundwater.”   

Why East Kalimantan?

Widodo chose the area based on the availability of land, low risks of natural disasters (unlike the volcanic and earthquake activity of other islands) and existing infrastructure. However, the mere idea of moving a capital city not just a few miles, but almost a thousand kilometers away creates logistical nightmares for city planners.

“They’re going to build a whole new city on the island of Borneo, taking two regions in the province of East Kalimantan, which is a portion of Borneo. Widodo said he hopes we location will begin by 2024. Now is the time for all the planning and all the building that needs to take place.”

Issues the government factored in whilst considering relocation were, “‘Can we build a whole new city that will accommodate all the people that it would take for all the government offices (and the homes) for about one and a half million civil servants?’– things like that. ‘Where could we place them and do it safely–do it smartly in a new territory?’”

Another challenge: the economic factor. Allen says that since this is their party, the government will fund that part of the project. “But the government is also hoping that there’ll be a lot of private investment, especially in the construction sector. They expect the cost will be about $33 billion to construct this new city. The state wants to fund about 19% of it, and the rest would come from public and private partnerships, private investment.”

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, R.B. Klama