By THEPHILBIZNEWS STAFF
Indonesia made yesterday, August 26, its strongest pitch yet to relocate its capital to Borneo Island, where a smart and green city will be built across at least 30,000 hectares, promising a new age of economic development for the nation of 270 million citizens.
The cost to build the new capital city, replacing Jakarta, is 466 trillion rupiah or $33 billion (about P1.73 trillion) and construction is expected to begin in 2021.
In a live telecast already posted on YouTube, President Joko Widodo announced the plan to build the new capital in Bukit Soeharto, a forested area between Panajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara districts of East Kalimantan Province, located in the Indonesian part of Borneo.
“We do not want to do this in a rush, but we want to do this as fast as possible,” Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, said in the video broadcast.
Financed by the government, hand-in-hand with private-public partnerships, the big relocation is 1,400 kilometers away from Jakarta and envisioned to spread economic development and opportunity beyond Java Island.
Earlier this month, Jokowi had told parliament that relocating the capital has become necessary to ease pressure on Jakarta — which has been beset with problems like pollution and congestion, a traffic standstill that drags economic growth, and continuing subsidence that has made it flood-prone.
His public works minister, Basuki Hadimuljono, said the design of the new capital is due for completion this year, and that site development — such as road networks, water and communication lines, and dam construction — should be done by 2023.
The government said environmental concerns will be addressed in the development of the new capital city amidst an area known for its massive rain forests.
Explaining why planners have decided that the center of governance and trade should move eastward, Widodo said in his speech: “The location is very strategic – it’s in the center of Indonesia and close to urban areas.”
Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said government buildings will be constructed according to a green and smart design so that by 2024, the end of Widodo’s second five-year term as President, civil servants from the central government offices in Jakarta may start moving to East Kalimantan.
Plans to relocate the capital had been on the table for many decades and presidents ago over the last century, due to pollution, overcrowding and alarming rate at which the island of Jakarta has been sinking — up to 20 centimeters a year and, as such, already 40 percent of the city is below sea level.