Indonesia's capital is sinking, so the government is moving it

Jakarta. Picture: Flickr/ TheGlobalPanorama.

Indonesia's president has chosen to move the country's capital out of Jakarta, a decision that is reportedly estimated to cost $33 bn.

Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, and the region around it, is the world's second largest urban agglomeration after Tokyo and is rapidly sinking. The island it sits on, Java, is home to over 141 million people, or 56.7% of the country's population.

Reuters reports that the city sinks approximately 7.62 cm a year, with 40% of it already below sea-level. The coastal area near Jakarta is sinking at a much faster pace, with some places sinking as much as 27.94 cm a year.

A total of thirteen rivers flow through the region of Jakarta, making it highly susceptible to flooding with extensive swampland.

The World Economic Forum reports that Jakarta sits just eight metres above sea-level and has sunk by four metres in the last thirty years.

Following a cabinet meeting, Indonesia's Minister of National Development Planning, Bambang Brojonegoro, announced that President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has chosen to move the capital out of Java entirely.

Picture: Indonesian government.
Picture: Indonesian government.

A total of three ideas were presented to the President before making his decision, including moving the Central Government 50km to 70km away from Jakarta.

Mr Brodjonegoro said it is one of the most important decisions that the government has made and the cabinet will continue to discuss the details, including the design and master plan of the city.

“If the Government moves the capital city within Java Island, it would not reduce the Island’s burden, and not making our national development more Indonesia-centric,” the Minister said.

The President’s direction is to create a financing scheme that will not burden the State Budget but to involve as much participation as possible from third parties while still maintaining the Government’s control.

Mr Brodjonegoro added that the new capital city will require a large amount of money, but the Finance Minister has confirmed that the costs are still 'within reasonable limits'.

According to the President, this is because the Government can work together with SOE's, private sectors, and business entities under the Public-Private Partnership Scheme.

The exact location of the new capital has yet to be decided, but the president seems open to suggestions, asking the public for their preference on twitter.

Mr Widodo said at the cabinet meeting: "We have to talk about the greater, long-term interests of the nation in facing global competition."

Mr Widodo posed the question: can Jakarta bear two burdens at once in the future, namely as administrative and business center of the country.

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