Indonesia builds new capital | The standard

In a few years, Jakarta will no longer be the capital of Indonesia, but Nusantara. This was approved by the Indonesian parliament on Tuesday. The new capital has yet to be built, in a densely forested area on the island of Borneo.

Jakarta, with 11 million inhabitants, is becoming less and less livable. The city has been struggling for years with persistent population growth and pollution. It is also located on a swampy subsoil near the sea – making it particularly prone to flooding – and according to the World Economic Forum one of the fastest sinking cities in the world. The city has sunk into the Java Sea at an alarming rate as a result of over-pumping of groundwater. Experts warn that the area could be completely submerged by 2050.

Nusantara is to be built in East Kalimantan province on the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, near the coastal city of Balikpapan. Kalimantan Province has one of the oldest rainforests in the world, home to several protected species and plants, including the orangutan. But because the structures could pose a threat to the rainforest, the move has also been criticized by several environmental groups, including Greenpeace. It would be 256,143 hectares of forest that must make way for a city.

Lawmakers say Nusantara aims to become an environmentally friendly city. For example, it must obtain all its energy from renewable sources, dedicate 10 percent of its surface to food production and ensure that 80 percent of mobility is driven by public transport.

While Jakarta remains the business center, Nusantara should become a “smart, modern and internationally recognized city” according to President Widodo’s government. Including new buildings for all ministries, the presidential palace and housing for 900,000 to 1.5 million people, mainly government employees and their families.

The government is also criticized for this. While the problems in Jakarta are not solved, the government is spending huge amounts on the relocation of civil servants. The construction costs of the new capital are estimated at more than 28 billion euros. The first officials should be able to move in 2024, shortly before the end of the second and final term of current President Joko Widodo.

Photo: AFP