Indonesia’s Capital is Sinking in the Sea, So They’re Spending $34 Billion to Build a New One

The Indonesian government is planning a massive undertaking in transferring its seat of power to a jungle-covered area on the east of Borneo island as capital city Jakarta sinks into the Java Sea.

President Joko Widodo announced the plan for a new capital on Monday as concerns over the sustainability of Jakarta have emerged, Agence France-Presse reports. 

“As a large nation that has been independent for 74 years, Indonesia has never chosen its own capital,” Widodo was quoted as saying. “The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the center of governance, business, finance, trade and services.”

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President Widodo admitted that the effort to move the capital would be very expensive. Officials previously estimated that moving the capital near the cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda could cost the government around 486 trillion rupiah ($34 billion) and take around 10 years, CNN reports.

Based on figures from the United Nations, over 10 million people call Jakarta home, with an estimated 30 million in the greater metropolitan area. It is not only one of the world’s most overpopulated urban regions, but it’s also one of the fastest-sinking cities on Earth, according to the World Economic Forum.

The environmental, economic and safety concerns in Jakarta reached a tipping point in July when some residents sued the Indonesian government due to air pollution described as “world’s filthiest.”

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The city, which sits on swampy ground, is reportedly dropping into the Java Sea at an alarming rate due to excessive groundwater extraction. The government hopes that moving the political center will ease the strain on the massive metropolis which has seen rapid expansion in recent years.

The still-unnamed relocation site will be on Borneo, the world’s third-largest island. Covered in vast rainforests, the island is largely owned by Indonesia, with Malaysia and Brunei each holding parts of its northern region. The island is said to have suffered rampant deforestation in recent years.

While the planned relocation still requires parliamentary approval, the government is already eyeing a possible commence by April 2020.

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Featured Image via YouTube / ODN

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