Jakarta, the current capital of Indonesia, is one of the fastest sinking cities in the world, being at risk of disappearing due to sea-level rise and flooding. Home to 10 million people, besides flooding, the megacity also suffers from chronic congestion and air pollution. Talks of moving the capital of the country to another city have been around for a few years, but President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, is the first to take serious steps in this direction.
1. New State Capital Law
Earlier this year the Parliament passed a bill that will relocate the capital city of Indonesia from Jakarta to the Kalimantan jungle on Borneo Island. The plan has been in progress since 2019, when the president first announced it, but has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Widodo chose the name of the new capital himself – Nusantara Javanese term for the Indonesian archipelago. The bill, now known as the new State Capital Law, provides the legal framework of the project, including how the $32 billion fund will be spent on the development and governing of the city.
The new capital has a central function and is a symbol of the identity of the nation, as well as a new centre of economic gravity.Suharso Monoarfa, Planning Minister
2. Building a new city
According to the plan, the infrastructure that will allow access to the city, such as roads and ports, is prioritised, works having already started, with the inauguration set already for 2024. After the project is finished, a presidential decree will formalise the change. Until then, Jakarta will remain capital.
Besides moving away from a sinking city, the new location is also a strategic one, aimed at strengthening supply chains and, according to the government, place Indonesia “in a more strategic position in world trade routes, investment flows and technological innovation”.
Furthermore, the intention is for the new capital to be a sustainability example. The website of the project states that 75% of the new governmental zone will remain green, while all residential, institutional and commercial buildings are constructed using strict environmentally friendly materials and methods. It will also be a “super hub”, supporting the pharmaceutical, health and technology sectors.
3. Local Authority
The city will be run by the Nusantara Capital Authority, the chief of which is equivalent to a minister. Last month, President Widodo appointed Bambang Susantono as the Head of this authority and Dhony Rahajoe as the Deputy Head, “marking a new chapter in the preparation and development of the State Capital relocation project”.
During his speech at the ceremony, Susantono said “The construction of a new city is more than just building its physical features. It is also about designing it in a way that promotes social cohesion and ensuring its residents live comfortably, fairly, and ideally. We hope the public can support us in helping fulfil Nusantara’s vision as an inclusive, green and sustainable city for everyone.”