Indonesian leader reaffirms plan to move capital from sinking Jakarta

Indonesian President, Joko Widodo
Indonesian President, Joko Widodo

The Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, on Thursday reaffirmed that the country’s capital would be moved to Borneo island from sinking and traffic-clogged Jakarta.

“Our country’s capital will move to Kalimantan Island. The location can be in Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan or South Kalimantan.

“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,“ Mr Joko said.

The city of Palangkaraya and an area near oil-rich Balikpapan had been considered among the likely sites for the new capital.

Experts, however, said that unlike other parts of Indonesia, most of Borneo was not prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The government wants to start moving to a new capital by 2024, at the end of Mr Joko’s second five-year term in office.

According to National Development Planning Minister, Bambang Brodjonegoro, such a move could cost up to 33 billion dollars.

“Funding will involve allowing developers to manage government-owned property in Jakarta in return to assist in building the future new city.

“The government has cited traffic congestion, frequent flooding and faster land subsidence as the main considerations for the move.

“About 40 per cent of Jakarta, a metropolis of 10 million people, is now below sea level and keeps sinking,“ Mr Brodjonegoro said.

Meanwhile, the greater Jakarta area including satellite cities is home to 30 million people.

The government said economic losses caused by the city’s traffic jams were estimated at 100 trillion rupiah (7 billion dollars) a year.

Jakarta is considered to be one of the fastest-sinking cities in the world. If this goes unchecked, parts of the megacity could be entirely submerged by 2050, say researchers. Is it too late?

It sits on swampy land, the Java Sea lapping against it, and 13 rivers running through it. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that flooding is frequent in Jakarta and, according to experts, it is getting worse. But it’s not just about freak floods, this massive city is literally disappearing into the ground.

“The potential for Jakarta to be submerged isn’t a laughing matter.

“If we look at our models, by 2050 about 95% of North Jakarta will be submerged,” says Heri Andreas, who has studied Jakarta’s land subsidence for the past 20 years at the Bandung Institute of Technology.

It’s already happening – North Jakarta has sunk 2.5m in 10 years and is continuing to sink by as much as 25cm a year in some parts, which is more than double the global average for coastal megacities.

Jakarta is sinking by an average of 1-15cm a year and almost half the city now sits below sea level.

The impact is immediately apparent in North Jakarta. (dpa/NAN)


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