August 27, 2019
JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo has officially announced its new capital will be relocated to Borneo from the current Jakarta as the country works double time to shift its political heart away from congested, polluted megalopolis.
The proposed location — near the regional cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda — is in the geographical center of the Southeast Asian archipelago and an area where the government already owns some 180,000 hectares (445,000 acres) of land, he added.
The site in the province of East Kalimantan is at “minimal” risk of natural disasters, Widodo said.
“As a large nation that has been independent for 74 years, Indonesia has never chosen its own capital,” Widodo continued in a televised speech.
Jakarta, originally named Batavia, was chosen the country’s capital when it was still under Dutch colonial rule from 1800 to 1949.
“The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade and services,” he added.
The government would draft a bill for the move, which would be sent to parliament, Widodo said.
He said the estimated cost of the project was around 466 trillion rupiah ($33 billion). The move comes as concerns about Jakarta’s future soar.
The megacity — first established by Dutch colonists nearly 500 years ago — of is one of the fastest-sinking cities on earth, with environmental experts warning that one-third of it could be submerged by 2050 if current rates continue.
The problem is largely linked to excessive groundwater extraction.
But the city of 10 million — a number that bloats to about 30 million with surrounding satellite cities — is also plagued by a host of other ills, from eye-watering traffic jams and pollution to the risk of earthquakes and floods.
Its foundations have been further stressed by unchecked development and poor urban planning.
The plan to move the capital from the island of Java was first announced by National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) Head Bambang Brodjonegoro in April. The new capital is to act as the center of government, while Jakarta would remain the country’s business and economic center.
A Bappenas team tasked with studying locations recommended three provinces in Kalimantan, namely South, Central and East Kalimantan, which all fit the requirements for a new capital, including being relatively free from earthquakes and volcanoes.
Shortly after the plan was announced, Jokowi visited two alternative locations in Kalimantan, namely Bukit Soeharto in East Kalimantan and the Triangle Area near Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan.
In his state of the nation speech in front of at the House complex earlier this month, Jokowi formally asked all officials and representatives in attendance to support his administration’s plan to relocate Indonesia’s capital to Kalimantan.
“The [new] capital is not only a symbol of our nation’s identity, but also represents our nation’s development,” Jokowi said at the time. “It’s for the sake of realizing an equitable and just economy.”
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