Indonesia plans to move capital city out of crowded Java

The Indonesian capital, Jakarta, is home to more than 10 million people, but around three times that many people live in the surrounding towns, adding to the severe congestion. The low-lying city is prone to flooding and is sinking due to over-extrac
The Indonesian capital, Jakarta, is home to more than 10 million people, but around three times that many people live in the surrounding towns, adding to the severe congestion. The low-lying city is prone to flooding and is sinking due to over-extraction of ground water. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

JAKARTA • Indonesia's President Joko Widodo yesterday said the capital of the world's fourth most populous country will be moved away from the crowded main island of Java, but a new location has yet to be finalised.

"Moving the national capital requires careful planning. Aside from choosing a suitable location, it must also include consideration on the geopolitical, geostrategic aspects, the availability of supporting infrastructure and financing," Mr Joko said, before National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro presented the proposal.

"But I believe God willing, if we prepare well from the start, we can realise this great idea," Mr Joko added.

Mr Joko's decision comes less than two weeks after private pollsters said he had won the April 17 presidential election, although official results are not due until May 22.

The President stressed the need for new thinking about the future at a Cabinet meeting.

"We want to think in a visionary way for the progress of this country and moving the capital requires thorough and detailed preparation," he said.

The capital, Jakarta, is home to more than 10 million people, but around three times that many people live in the surrounding towns, adding to the severe congestion.

Mr Bambang put the annual economic loss due to traffic congestion in Jakarta at 100 trillion rupiah (S$9.6 billion).

The low-lying capital is prone to flooding and is sinking due to over-extraction of ground water.

In making his decision, Mr Joko had also taken into account the fact that nearly 60 per cent of Indonesia's 260 million people live in Java and economic activities were concentrated there, Mr Bambang said.

Mr Bambang did not estimate the cost of moving the capital but said the President had ordered the finance ministry to come up with a financing scheme that allowed participation of private investors.

He said moving the capital could take up to 10 years. One of the contenders for the new capital city is Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, state news agency Antara reported this year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2019, with the headline 'Indonesia plans to move capital city out of crowded Java'. Print Edition | Subscribe