Indonesia is moving its capital because Jakarta is sinking

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 29 August 2019

The Indonesian Minister of National Development announced that the government would be relocating the Southeast Asian country’s sinking capital of Jakarta to Borneo.

Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro told Reuters, the official move to Borneo is expected to begin in 2024 only and is part of a 10-year plan to regenerate the urban area of the current capital which is under immense environmental stress due to overpopulation and poor infrastructure.

Kutai, Southeast Asia, Borneo, East Kalimantan, island

East Kutai Regency in East Kalimantan, Borneo. Image: Helmi Rahim, CC BY 3.0.

The capital and various important operations will migrate from the Jakarta Bay and across the Java Sea to the much larger island of Borneo which is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

The huge translocation to Borneo’s Indonesian province of East Kalimantan, roughly 1,000km away, is expected to cost $33 million (R507 billion), but the government will be spending even more to address the existing issues in current capital Jakarta – $40 billion (R616 billion).

“People assume Jakarta is doing fine. Jakarta is not doing fine at all. The water condition is a cause for concern, wastewater, air pollution,” said Brodjonegoro.

Jakarta, with its population of roughly 10 million people, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world in an area of 662km².

The city’s poor water pipe infrastructure means that 40% of citizens and businesses have resorted to digging wells to extract groundwater. This over-extraction results in floods and also means that the city land mass is sinking at a rate of 28cm a year.

Borneo is renowned for its lush, rainforest vegetation and wildlife – particularly orangutans and proboscis monkeys.

Image source: Helmi Rahim, licensed under CC BY 3.0

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