A country has approved an ambitious plan to move its overcrowded, sinking capital to a jungle far away. But there’s a rather huge problem with the mystery new megacity.
From a polluted, overcrowded megacity to a sparkling new capital city in the middle of the jungle, it’s quite the ambitious transformation plan.
That’s the idea from inside Indonesia, where parliament has this month approved the relocation of its capital of Jakarta to a jungle island on the East Kalimantan province on the Indonesian part of Borneo, which the country shares with Malaysia and Brunei.
Because Jakarta is continuing to sink, the decision was made relocate it 2000 kilometres away to the island that will be named Nusantara.
Construction of the entire city is estimated to take 20-25 years with an astounding total budget of RP466 trillion ($AUD45 billion). Along with the new development, 1.5 million people from Jakarta’s population of 10.5 million would need to relocate.
The proposed city will cover around 56,180 hectares, and a total of 256,142 hectares have been set aside for the project along with extra land for possible future expansion.
And it couldn’t come fast enough, with predictions that by 2050 approximately 95 per cent of North Jakarta will be submerged. Along with the threat of disappearing eventually, Jakarta is extremely susceptible to earthquakes.
Early plans for the new capital depict a utopian design aimed at creating an environmentally friendly “smart” city, but few details have been confirmed.
“The construction of the new capital city is not merely a physical move of government offices,” President Joko Widodo said ahead of parliament’s approval of the plan earlier this month, according to the Associated Press.
“The main goal is to build a smart new city, a new city that is competitive at the global level, to build a new locomotive for the transformation … toward an Indonesia based on innovation and technology based on a green economy.”
What we do know about the mysterious city is that along with new government offices being built, there will also be a 150 metre tall presidential palace.
Sadly, the move will cost a lot more than just finances; it will potentially involve expelling tens of thousands of the nation’s indigenous people.
At least 20,000 people from 21 indigenous groups live in the area designated for the construction, and the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) has warned they won’t be properly protected.
There’s another problem, with concerns the new development will disturb the wildlife already there, including orang-utans.
“There are threats to water systems and risks of climate change, threats to flora and fauna, and threats of pollution and environmental damage,” Dwi Sawung, an official with the Indonesian Forum for Living Environment (WALHI) told the Associated Press of the problems facing the new development.
While the idea to move the capital has been proposed for some time, plans to begin construction in 2020 were hampered by the start of the covid pandemic.
So what will happen to Jakarta?
Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan told local media that the megacity will remain important.
“Jakarta will continue to be the centre of the economy, the centre of other sectors like culture, and remain as the hub of the nation,” he told local media.