Indonesia plans to move capital from sinking, overcrowded Jakarta to Kalimantan

There are plans to build a new "green" capital in the middle of a national park in East Kalimantan.

Ashley Tan | August 13, 08:02 pm


Indonesia’s President Jokowi has reaffirmed plans to move the country’s capital, Jakarta, to Kalimantan, also known as Borneo.

The president however, has yet to finalise a specific location within Kalimantan.

Moving capitals

In a tweet on August 8, Jokowi stated that potential locations for the new capital could be in “Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, or South Kalimantan”.

Photo from Google Maps

He said:

“All aspects are being studied thoroughly so that the decision will be in line with our national vision for the next 10, 50, 100 years”.

Kalimantan is a strong contender compared to other locations as the area is not prone to earthquakes and volcanoes, compared to other parts of Indonesia nearer to the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The final location will be revealed in late 2019, reported CNA, and preparations such as the masterplan and detailed designs of the new capital could commence in 2020.

According to Straits Times, the government plans to start the shift by 2024, but the move is expected to cost US$33 billion (S$45.61 billion) and could take up to 10 years.

Jakarta is sinking

Indonesia’s current capital Jakarta is a mega-city with a population of 10 million.

North Jakarta has sunk 2.5m in the past 10 years, and continues to descend almost 25cm a year, reported BBC.

Researchers believe that by 2050, 95 per cent of North Jakarta could be submerged.

The subsidence is caused by numerous factors. The land is sinking due to the extraction of groundwater, and that coupled with rising sea levels from climate change, makes Jakarta the fastest sinking city in the world.

Additionally, the capital of Indonesia is heavily congested and plagued by pollution.

All these contribute to Jokowi’s decision to shift the country’s capital and centre of economic activity, a concept which has reportedly been “discussed periodically for decades”.

National park the potential new capital

Currently, Jokowi is eyeing a national park, Bukit Soeharto, in East Kalimantan.

The place reportedly has 68,000 hectares of government land available, and is easily accessible from two international airports.

The area is also free from natural disasters and is close to existing infrastructure, reported Free Malaysia Today.

According to ABC News, the government has promised to build a “smart, green, beautiful and sustainable capital” in the heart of the forest, marketing it as a “forest city”.

Environmentalists, however, are skeptical.

The forests of Bukit Soeharto have been designated a conservation area, and environmentalists say they are home to orangutans, sun bears, gibbons and other endangered species.

Top photo from Google Maps and Seika / Flickr

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