Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday proposed moving the capital from Jakarta, a crowded, polluted city of 10 million people, to the island of Borneo, although he left Indonesians guessing as to the exact location.
Widodo suggested a new capital in Kalimantan, on the Indonesian side of the island shared with Malaysia and Brunei, in a speech to parliament, a day before the nation’s independence day holiday.
“I hereby request your permission to move our national capital to Kalimantan,” said Widodo, who is to be sworn in for a second term in October after winning an election in April.
“A capital city is not just a symbol of national identity, but also a representation of the progress of the nation. This is for the realization of economic equality and justice,” he added.
He did not give the exact site of the new city in a region known for rain forests, coal mines, orangutans and home to just more than 16 million people.
Widodo toured Kalimantan in May to survey potential sites and last month tweeted a shortlist of three provinces: Central, East and South Kalimantan.
The new capital should tick several boxes, officials say.
It must be in the center of Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that stretches about 5,000km from its western to eastern tips.
The risk of natural disasters should also be lower than other parts of Indonesia often hit by earthquakes, floods and volcanoes.
Jakarta is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, home to more than 10 million people and three times that number when counting those who live in surrounding towns.
The city is prone to floods and sinking due to subsidence, caused by residents using up groundwater and leaving rock and sediment to pancake on top of each other.
Moving the capital would cost up to US$33 billion, Indonesian Minister of National Development Planning Bambang Brodjonegoro said.
The price tag includes new government offices and homes for about 1.5 million civil servants expected to pack up and start moving in 2024.
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