President Widodo revives relocation plans as experts say Jakarta may be submerged by 2050
Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, has another problem in addition to its traffic and pollution: The city of 10 million is sinking.
Some researchers predict that large swaths of the city could be entirely submerged by 2050, and they said north Jakarta had already sunk 2.5 meters in 10 years, the BBC reported last month.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has revived plans to relocate the capital. At a recent Cabinet meeting, Widodo asked his ministers to come up with suggestions, the Jakarta Globe reported on April 29.
The president said there were three choices, according to the Globe report: Leave the capital where it is in Jakarta; move it to an area within a 50- to 70-kilometer radius of the city; or move the capital off the island of Java altogether.
Building a new capital could take between five and 10 years and cost as much as US$33 billion, The Jakarta Post quoted National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro as saying.
The idea of relocating is not new, according to Gervasius Samosir, a Jakarta-based consultant with global group YCP Solidiance. “Presidents from Sukarno onward have mentioned the need to relocate the capital,” he told China Daily.
But on all occasions, the idea did not get beyond the discussion stage.
Now, President Widodo has revived the decades-old plan and favors Palangkaraya, a city of about 260,000 people on the island of Borneo that is relatively free from natural disasters and located near the center of the archipelago.
Planning Minister Bambang told a news briefing after the Cabinet meeting on April 29 that the new capital would likely be in the “geographic center of Indonesia”.
Other criteria will include land availability, water supply, proximity to the coast and foreign territory, and existing infrastructure.
“We have to find a location that is really minimal in terms of disaster risks. And because Indonesia is a maritime nation, the new capital city should be located near the coast, but not necessarily by the sea,” he said.
“We want to have a new city which besides reflecting Indonesia’s identity is a modern, international-class city, or a smart, green and beautiful city,” the minister said.
Yayat Supriyatna, an urban planner at Trisakti University in Jakarta, told China Daily that Widodo is serious about moving the capital — “by announcing it in front of high-ranking state, executive, legislative and judicial leaders during a joint sitting at the presidential palace on May 6”.
He said there were a number of factors favoring a new capital, with Borneo being an ideal location. “It is strategically located in the middle of Indonesia, and a great deal of the land is already owned by the government or state-owned companies. This would reduce investment costs for infrastructure and relocation.”
“It is also free from potential earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, erosion and forest fires. It has abundant water resources and is free of air pollution.”
Heri Andreas, a lecturer on the Institute of Technology Bandung’s earth science and technology faculty, said Jakarta “has a long history of flooding, as it sits on a flood plain where 13 rivers cross the city”. Due to land subsidence and rising sea level, the city is now suffering from coastal flooding and tidal inundation, he added. Andreas said the advantage of choosing Palangkaraya as the new capital would be that it is “not a large city now, but it does have infrastructure, and from all accounts it is in good shape”.
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