JAKARTA – Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo formally proposed on Friday the relocation of the country’s capital to the island of Borneo from Jakarta, which is under the threat of sinking and has overpopulation problems.
In a televised state of the nation speech to parliament ahead of the country’s 74th independence anniversary on Saturday, Widodo formally proposed the relocation of the capital to Kalimantan, Borneo, which Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei.
He said that a capital is not only a symbol of national identity but it also represents the progress of the nation and added that this would help achieve economic equality.
Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, did not specify exactly where in Borneo the capital would be relocated to, nor when, although the government had said earlier that the first phase is set to begin in 2024.
In May, Widodo visited several of the possible candidates for the new capital, including Bukit Soeharto, located some 40 kilometers from the provincial capital of East Kalimantan, Balikpapan.
The president promised to announce this year the name of the new capital, which will be the administrative center of the country, while Jakarta will continue as the financial and business capital.
Nearly 30 million people live in the metropolitan region that forms Jakarta and its satellite cities.
It is one of the most polluted capitals of the world and its traffic jams have led to the state losing millions.
Floods also pose a danger due to soil subsidence, caused mainly by groundwater extraction which especially affects the north of the capital. There the average subsidence is between 15 and 20 centimeters per year.
The relocation of the capital also seeks to redistribute wealth across the archipelago where the majority of the population is concentrated on the islands of Java and Sumatra, while islands such as Borneo are less developed.
The idea of relocating the capital has been under consideration by the Indonesian government since the first term of Sukarno who led Indonesia between 1945-1976.