On Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced plans for moving the country’s capital from Jakarta to the island of Borneo. The move is meant to solve several big problems, but it will be very expensive.
Indonesia is the world’s largest country formed by a group of islands. There are over 16,000 islands in Indonesia, and around 6000 of these have people living on them. Almost 60% of the people live on Java, which is also home to Indonesia’s current capital, Jakarta.
Jakarta has been a capital for Indonesia since the 1600s. But the city was built in a swampy area and it is sinking quickly. Some areas of the city are sinking by about 10 inches (25 centimeters) a year. Around 40% of the city is below the level of the sea.
The city is also very crowded. Though Jakarta itself has just 10 million people, other nearby cities bring the number of people to over 30 million. The city is famous both for its traffic and pollution. One member of the government said that the terrible traffic in Jakarta costs the country around $7 billion a year.
The island of Java has had problems with earthquakes and tsunamis. It is also home to the most active volcano in Indonesia, Mount Merapi.
Mr. Widodo’s plan calls for the new capital to be on the island of Borneo, which is split between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. The chosen area, called East Kalimantan, is more in the center of Indonesia, and not too far from other large cities.
The government already owns about 690 square miles (1,780 square kilometers) of land in East Kalimantan, which right now is mainly rainforest and beaches. Though East Kalimantan is more protected than Jakarta from volcanoes and tsunamis, it is an area that can have wildfires.
Some people are worried about the impact the new capital will have on the rainforest and the wildlife that lives there. The rainforests of Borneo are one of the few places where Bornean Orangutans still live in their natural setting.
The idea of moving the capital has been around for over 50 years or more. Mr. Widodo says that the current plan has been studied carefully for 3 years.
Mr. Widodo was recently re-elected as the country’s leader. During his first time as president, Mr. Widodo was able to complete several other large-scale projects.
Moving the capital is definitely a large-scale project. The move is expected to cost about $33 billion. The government will pay for around 19% of the costs, and plans to work with businesses to raise the rest of the money.
The new capital, which hasn’t been named yet, will require new buildings, houses, and highways. Work on that could start as soon as 2021. If everything goes as planned, the government could start moving in 2024.
The planners hope that by moving the capital to East Kalimantan, the people, buildings, and traffic connected with government will follow. That should leave Jakarta less crowded as a business center. Much work will still be required to protect Jakarta from rising seas.
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