News Focus

Govt considering moving capital city outside Java Island

Govt considering moving capital city outside Java Island

Photo document of Jakarta's traffic jam. (ANTARA FOTO/Indrianto Eko Suwarso/ama.)

The Indonesian Government is considering developing a new capital city located outside Java Island, to replace Jakarta which will celebrate its 492th anniversary this year.

Jakarta is seen as no longer fit to maintain its status as the country's capital city. The metropolitan city is very crowded with roads only constituting 6.2 percent of its total area, while it should ideally be 15 percent at least.

Losses as a result of Jakarta's traffic jams are estimated to reach some Rp100 trillion in 2019. Besides, 50 percent of Jakarta is prone to flooding.

Up to 90 percent of water in Jakarta's rivers are polluted; hence, it poses a danger due to bad sanitation. Jakarta is also sinking with a subsidence rate at seven centimeters a year. During the 1989-2007 period, the soil level in Jakarta subsided by 60 centimeters.

The government favors the plan on moving the capital city outside Java Island, which is the world’s most crowded island, based on various grounds.

With regard to the environment, traffic, and water, Java Island, with a population of some 149 million people, comprising 57 percent of the country's total population, is unlikely to support the development of a new capital city.

The government organized the first cabinet meeting on April 29, 2019, for holding discussions on the plan to shift the capital city.

President Joko Widodo said the idea of moving the capital of the Republic of Indonesia has been in motion since the era of founding President Soekarno, but the discourse has often seen confusion because it was never decided and implemented in a well-planned and mature way.

He said several countries including Australia, Malaysia, Brazil and South Korea have moved their seats of government.

"To move the capital, we need detailed preparations in terms of selecting an appropriate location by taking into account geopolitics, geostrategy, supporting infrastructure and funding," he said.

The head of state believed that if preparations were in place, the plan to move the capital could be realized.

"It could be in Sumatra, but it would be far from the eastern part of (Indonesia). Sulawesi is a little in the center, but quite far from the western part (of Indonesia). Kalimantan is in the middle. That's about it," Jokowi said on April 30, 2019.

Eastern Sumatra, Kalimantan Island, and southern Sulawesi are among the location options for the new capital city, according to Bambang Brodjonegoro, the National Development Planning Minister/Head of the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), said during his presentation at the limited cabinet meeting.

When a new location is decided, the process to develop a new capital city will start in 2020 and it will take five to ten years to finish, he said.

"Hence, we want to have a new capital city. It should reflect Indonesia's identity and become a modern city of international class, or a smart, green and beautiful city,"

The Bappenas put forth three options on relocation of the capital city, with the first being to not change the capital city of Jakarta though relocating the government offices around the Presidential Palace and the National Monument (Monas) areas.

The second option was relocating the capital city to regions in proximity to Jakarta, such as Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, or Bekasi, while the third alternative was moving it outside Java Island.

"The point is if it remains in Java Island, moreover, near Jakarta, it will not lessen the burden on Java Island and also not drive Indonesia-centric development, but rather solely strengthen Java Island," he explained.

Some 40 thousand hectares along with Rp466 trillion, or some US$33 billion, are needed for a new capital city outside Java.

This decision will also entail the migration of some 1.5 million people constituting civil servants of different ministries and state institutions, legislative and judiciary officers, as well as military and police officers, among others.

Meanwhile, Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla admitted to it being no easy task to decide on an apt location for the new capital city since 10 pre-requisites had to be met.

"A decision had yet to be taken based on meeting 10 specific criteria agreed upon and put forth by Bappenas. The requirements are stringent and making a choice is not easy task," Kalla remarked.

Among the conditions are the place being strategically located in the heart of Indonesia; its populace being highly tolerant; carrying the least risk of natural disasters; and having no less than 60 thousand hectares of vacant area.

"It could be in Kalimantan or Sulawesi. Sulawesi Island is, for instance, located in the heart, but the only drawback is the absence of a vacant and ready area. Although a ready location is in sight, but it has risky faults," Kalla explained.

A huge plan should be in place for moving the capital city.