Government committed to relocating Indonesian capital

Bappenas Chief Bambang Brodjonegoro has stated that by the end of this year, the agency would have completed assessing potential alternative cities that could become the new capital of Indonesia.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Government of Indonesia is determined to relocate the state capital Jakarta out of Java Island to avoid total traffic gridlock by 2020.

President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, had urged the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) to conduct a feasibility study on the possible location, and Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan was one of the options.

Bappenas Chief Bambang Brodjonegoro has stated that by the end of this year, the agency would have completed assessing potential alternative cities that could become the new capital of Indonesia.

Brodjonegoro expressed hope that in the next two years, activities related to the transfer of the administrative center of the state capital would be carried out.

Debates on relocating the capital have frequently resurfaced since it was first mooted by President Sukarno in 1957.

Sukarno once held a discourse that the state capital could be relocated to Palangkaraya, as he had also visited the city to review its development.

Problems of the overcrowded Jakarta city have since then become more practical and less ideological, with reports surfacing that areas of north Jakarta are sinking at a rate of 25 centimeters a year.

In search of a new capital city of Indonesia, Bappenas is looking at aspects, such as the availability of land and natural resources around the potential cities.

"We have discussed the matter with the president, and essentially, we will soon begin the process of relocating the capital," the Bappenas chief remarked.

Brodjonegoro reiterated that the assessment would hopefully be completed this year, including its estimation and funding scheme.

According to Brodjonegoro, Bappenas will encourage private involvement in the planned relocation of the state capital, particularly in terms of funding.

For funding, he said Bappenas will push the public-private partnership model.

Until now, Bappenas is still reviewing the plan to relocate the state capital from Jakarta to a new area outside Java Island.

The capital city should be relocated to outside of Java Island, given the availability of more adequate land.

Nevertheless, Brodjonegoro has not revealed details of the specific location of the new capital of the country.

"Certainly, outside Java, most likely on the island of Kalimantan, but the specific location will be finalized soon," Brodjonegoro said.

Java Island is believed to dominate Indonesias economic activities. Moreover, economic activities in Java are more concentrated in the areas of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi.

If the plan to relocate the capital city is truly realized, the Bappenas chief said the heavy burden on Jakarta, as the center of government, finance, and business, can be reduced.

In addition to heavy burden of Jakarta as the center of government, finance, as well as business, annual flooding during the rainy season has repeatedly crippled Jakarta and hindered the smooth functioning of administrative and business activities.

The flooding has aggravated several existent problems faced by Jakarta, which conventional measures have failed to resolve.

Public services and government businesses grind to a halt every time floods lash the capital city.

In a bid to solve Jakartas problems, the idea of relocating the state capital has repeatedly resurfaced.

But numerous political figures have stated that moving the capital to another island in Indonesia outside of Java would not solve the problems.

They suggested that it would be better if the city of Jakarta remains Indonesias capital, but it would be beneficial if some government activities are relocated outside Jakarta.

They said the problems of Jakarta can be solved by relocating some ministries to other islands across the country.

According to them, shifting some of the ministries can resolve the issues plaguing the capital city. But, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the National Police, Defense and Security Ministry, and the Presidential Palace should remain in Jakarta.

By relocating the capital, the political figures do not want to give the impression that they are shifting Jakartas problems to another city.

The names of some Indonesian cities in Kalimantan, West Java, and Papua had circulated among the public following the discussions related to relocating the countrys administrative center.

Some of the proposed cities were Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan, Jonggol in West Java, and Jayapura in Papua.

Some years ago, in an address to all provincial governors across the country at a gathering in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, the then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated that Jakarta Metropolitan City was already too crowded and hence not an ideal location to be the center of the national administration.

"Around 15 years ago, Jonggol in West Java was under consideration to be the new national administration center," Yudhoyono stated at the time.

The idea of relocating the center of administration from Jakarta to another area was shelved as Indonesia was hit by a monetary crisis some years ago.

Over the years, the Jakarta Metropolitan City has become too crowded, and the idea of relocation should be reconsidered.(*)