Pros and cons on idea to move capital city from Jakarta

Pros and cons on idea to move capital city from Jakarta

Photo document of floods in Jakarta. (ANTARA News/Ade P. Marboen)

"These problems will go on and on."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Following major floods that almost crippled Jakarta recently, an idea to move Indonesia`s capital city to another place has once again surfaced.

Jakarta has been hit by a five-year cycle of big floods that put most of the city under water, crippling transport and economic activities, as well as claiming at least 20 lives.

Jakarta has suffered from floods almost every year but such big flooding comes only once in five years.

Earlier calls for finding a new place for the country`s center of administration was prompted by Jakarta`s notorious traffic jams, but the flooding during the rainy season over the past week made things much worse.

Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Marzuki Alie was quoted by media in Jakarta recently that there was no other way to overcome flooding, traffic congestion, waste management and pollution problems in Jakarta except by moving the country`s capital to a new location.

"These problems will go on and on. The country`s capital must be moved to a new location first before the problems can be solved immediately in stages," he said.

Marzuki said the new capital should not necessarily be too far from Jakarta. He proposed for the government to reclaim 2,000 hectares of land from the sea in North Jakarta to be made the country`s new capital city.

He stated Malaysia had also succeeded in making such move when it moved the government administration centre to Putrajaya, which is still near to the country`s capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Marzuki`s idea was supported by Chairman of the Regional Representative Council (DPD) Irman Gusman who said the institution has repeatedly warned the government of the need to move the center of administration from Jakarta.

"DPD of the preceding term had also suggested the need to move the center of administration somewhere else," Irman said recently.

The idea has been proposed to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he said, adding the president had even formed a team to study the plan.

Irman said DPD would continue call for the removal of the capital from Jakarta, adding the city could no longer sustain its burden.

The floods prove that Jakarta is no longer suitable for the center of administration," he said when inspecting tents of flood victims in Patrasana, Tangerang.

Some people suggested to move the capital city to Palangkaraya, now the capital of Central Kalimantan.

"Palangkaraya, Jonggol , Banten or any place in the country are all good. It depends on the government," he said, adding, "selection, however, must be made with careful studies," he stated.

He pledged DPD would discuss that matter with the central government and the city governor.

DPD member from Central Kalimantan H Hamdhani in Jakarta on January 25, 2013, urged the government to immediately work on the idea to move the seat of government administration to Palangka Raya.

Jakarta is prone to disasters and no longer fit for a center of administration, he said.

Palangka Raya in the interior area of less developed and heavily forested Kalimantan, had once been suggested as potential replacement for Jakarta by the country`s first President Soekarno.

Hamdani said seeing the condition in Jakarta the government should be serious in considering the idea of moving the capital city.

"Flooding and traffic jams have been Jakarta`s biggest problem for many years for which there has been no effective remedy," he said.

Moreover, Java Island is prone to quake disaster, and Jakarta is only 200 kilometers away from the threatening Mt Krakatau in the Sunda Strait, he said.

He said Jakarta will also face inevitable problem with groundwater scarcity and pollution soon in the future.

Meawnhile, Social scientist Prof Nirwono Yoga of the Trisakti University, Central Kalimantan, said that the discourse in moving the capital city from Jakarta to Palangka Raya was worth considering.

He said the capital city could be moved from Jakarta to Palangka Raya so that the central government would not be affected by floods.

"Probably former president Soekarno was right when he raised the discourse to move the capital city to Palangka Raya. Each time Jakarta is flooded with waters, Palangka Raya just remains safe," he said.

Soekarno once had the idea to move the capital city to

Palangka Raya in the 1950s because he saw that Jakarta would be no longer be ideal to serve as a capital city in the future.

He said Palangka Raya City was located on a hilly area far from floods with a good canal system. "But the discourse on moving the capital city to Palangka Raya which happened to resurface several years ago is no longer raised now," he said.

Jakarta is the largest city of Indonesia and over crowded with more than 13 million people living in greater Jakarta.

Java Island, where Jakarta is located, represents only seven percent of Indonesia`s territory but is inhabited by around 60 percent of Indonesia`s population of 245 million people.

The government, however, has indicated that it did not favor the idea of moving the capital city.

Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha has said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has indicated no interest in moving the capital city.

Yudhoyono instead ordered for the improvement of the drainage system to prevent a repeat of Jakarta flooding, Julian said.

"We prioritize steps to prevent a repeat of this year floods in the future. We need support from the people such as in greater discipline to throw garbage in disposal place," Julian quoted the president as saying in Jakarta on January 21, 2013.

Yudhoyono, when visiting flood victims in their temporary shelters in East Jakarta, passed order for the repair of infrastructure and improvement of drainage system to protect the city from floods in the future.

The president said the excess of water from the western Jakarta canal should be channeled to the eastern canal with a flood way.

The president also ordered revitalization and normalization of the Ciliwung river the culprit causing Jakarta languishing over the past week.

"I can assure you there is no proposal (among the government agencies) yet suggesting the urgency of moving the capital city," Julian told reporters.

The opposition has come not only from the government. Former vice president Jusuf Kalla dismissed the idea as too costly saying it is not as simple as moving not only the government office but also hundreds of thousands of civil servants.

Kalla said the idea to move the seat of government from Jakarta should not be made a priority at present. "More important and pressing is to improve the infrastructure to prevent floods in Jakarta," he said.

New Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo believed that the government should first work to mitigate the capital`s flooding issues, and the moving the capital should become a viable final option.

"I agree with the idea of the People`s Consultative Assembly speaker to move it if there is no [other] way and [we have] difficulties in handling the flood and cannot solve it," Joko told recently.

Sharing Kalla`s opinion, Joko said the government should first focus on constructing a spillway linking the Ciliwung River and the East Flood Canal, moving the residents of river-side slums and building an underground drainage tunnel.